Metro Arts, Sue Benner Theatre
April 13 – 16
Like a sci-fi Laura Palmer (that’s a reference from the ‘90s television show “Twin Peaks” for readers under 40), Amelia Stokes begins her performance in Claire Marshall’s “Flaunt” wrapped in plastic, atop a scaffolded, raised platform with perspex floor. Nearly naked, she is brought down to the stage proper by the show’s other performers Essie Horn and Courtney Scheu, presented in fem-bot forms to a futuristic soundscape of metallic breaths and repeated words like ‘freedom’. It is an evocative introduction to a work whose exploration of gender construction covers topics such as sexuality, power and the representation of the human body in popular culture.
Under the scaffolding are layers of floor runners and as each on is rolled back another dynamic is revealed, taking audience members through a range of chapters that step back in time to eras of the 1900s, 1950s and 1970s. Then there is the standout ‘80s number, complete with shoulder-padded suit jackets and a pumping Yazoo musical accompaniment as one of the women actually makes it back atop of the perspex glass ceiling only to ensure the others are pushed back from their competitive attempts to also ascend. This morphs into a second-to-last metallic floor runner into which the dancers are narcissistically drawn in admiration of themselves and their shoes in story of today.
Whether fluid in femininity or in more masculine moments, the dancers are entrancing in their strength and controlled movement. As Stokes is initially manoeuvred about as if she is a doll, there is a significant showcase of skill. Indeed the dances are quite superb, especially in their synchronicity, even when occupying the stage’s different levels. And their transition between eras is seamless, thanks to some simple but effective costuming choices, added to their black short and crop tops bases. The accompaniment of a dynamic and engaging array of sounds and social issue commentary (including cake recipes and the words of academia alike), a thrilling musical soundtrack, exciting choreography around the scaffolding and its parts, and comments about empowerment, make “Flaunt” a show not to be show to be missed.