Power Ballad, Battersea Arts Centre

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By guest critic Amy Toledano

Writing a review for this abstract piece of feminist theatre feels almost unnatural, as Julia Croft’s Power Ballad is one that is completely subjective. And while the piece is not exactly to my own person taste, it is plain to see that this is almost the point. It’s certainly understandable how Croft has taken the Fringe world by storm.

Splitting the show into four segments, Croft uses language and performance art as a way to express feminist anguish and rage, and does a brilliant job at making the audience feel unsure and uncomfortable. She opens with no words – only music – and the use of her body (hands excluded) to dance with fury with the lone microphone onstage.

Questioning the space and what makes theatre theatre through the use of sounds and violent language, the show is unexpected at every turn. It is in the moments of heightened alienation of the audience that Croft cleverly uses karaoke power ballads to bring everyone together and provide an inclusive vibe.

While there are moments that feel a little long, it is in the quiet moments and clever use of an FX board that Croft cuts through to the show’s core, awakening a moment of vulnerability in this high energy and rage-fuelled show. It is at this point that the light bulb is switched on, and it becomes clear that Croft’s commentary on gender in today’s society still has such a long way to go.

Ending the show with an Annie Lennox showstopper (with wind machine to boot) this show is completely unexpected, and from the get go, the audience must suspend themselves to the world they are plunged into, whether they like it or not.

Power Ballad runs through 30 June then tours.

The Play’s the Thing UK is committed to covering fringe and progressive theatre in London and beyond. It is run entirely voluntarily and needs regular support to ensure its survival. For more information and to help The Play’s the Thing UK provide coverage of the theatre that needs reviews the most, visit its patreon.

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