Power Ballad by Julia Croft – Summerhall, Edinburgh
Until you’ve had a New Zealander dressed in mime costume shouting “Feminist Theatre!” at you in a former veterinary demonstration room, you’ve not experienced the Fringe. Fortunately, Julia Croft’s unnerving and wonderful show delivers in this respect and a number of others. Part dance, part sound art, Croft confronts the issues of gender that are dominating this year’s Fringe, but in a way that is entirely her own. Transitioning from woman to man and back again, she leaves the audience with absolutely no idea what to expect next.
Croft is a physical performer, using in turn her body and her voice to unsettle and then win over the Summerhall crowd. She turns words over and over, using repetition to strip out and question meaning. It’s an amazingly effective technique. She builds tracks with a loop machine, stroking herself and audience members with a microphone. And there are power ballads, which somehow seem much more profound when Croft is miming along. An entirely original show, delivering just the right combination of originality, inventiveness and emotional punch.