One doesn’t usually expect to see a giant vulva frolicking across a stage on a Monday night.
Nonetheless, here I am, witnessing such a scene: its ginormous lips flapping about in a smoky haze of coloured lighting, a woman’s head poking out pinkly at the clit.
And there, also, is the giggling opening night crowd at Glittery Clittery: A Consensual Party, a bawdy feminist cabaret from Melbourne, taking on the patriarchy with the power of glam.
Look, straight up, a show with such a name and such a premise will inevitably make a frail little part of me curl up and slink off.
It’s not that I’m an Aunt Petunia (she protests shrilly). My problem is, I’m bad at celebratory feminism. I mean, I grew up in the nineties and didn’t care about the Spice Girls. How does that figure? What’s wrong with me?
Also, I am alone. Many shows are fantastic to see solo, but Glittery Clittery is, perhaps, not one of them.
Directed by Clare Bartholomew, the three gorgeous sass-queens on stage are Laura Frew, Rowena Hutson and Tessa Waters, an award-winning trio otherwise known as The Fringe Wives Club. Or, as they dubbed themselves this night, the ‘cliterati’.
With vulva epaulettes on sequinned, low-cut onesies, the ladies preach the new gospel of #metoo wokeness, incorporating slapstick, live music, divine disco and raunch. They jive. They jam. They bust moves and misogynist myths.
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Glittery is billed as a ‘consensual party’, so there is no forced audience involvement (let sound a bellow of relief).
There is a gameshow element though, and blessed were the brave souls that did volunteer. Given honking devices as buzzers, these heaven-sent competed to come up with the best euphemism for you know, your pink circus. Your paddling pool of love. Your jazz time jungle.
You get the picture.
The pedagogy of equality and respect can easily sound overbearing. Repeat something over and over again – like feminists have been forced to do against the stolid, unhearing mass of male entitlement – and that voice and that message is bound to sound frustrated and strained.
Acts like Glittery Clittery bundle up the message afresh, blending sex-bomb entertainment with progressive education.
Arguably though, this sister act is preaching to the choir. A fair number of their complaints against the patriarchy were so commonplace as to be hackneyed, or even unimaginative, from crotch-on-thigh public transport assault, to the “he only hit you because he likes you” refrain dished out to young girls.
Part of me would love to see Glittery tour every boys’ school in Australia, but the people who’ll buy Griffin Theatre tickets are probably already across what the ladies are putting down.
A notable exception here is a mock tribute to the Feminist Fuckboi, a new and slimy creature, who disguises himself in the cloak of feminist attributes to fuel his own selfish ends. This song, which closes the hour-long performance, is a banger with brilliantly on-point lyrics.
Arguably, the Griffin Theatre’s underground nook – referred to by the Fringe Wives as ‘the womb’ – doesn’t help with hustling up the party vibes. The tiered seating, so excellent for scrutiny, so alarming when a performer locks eyes with you, and the grim black walls put me in mind of a Kafka play I saw recently. I want to see the show in some wild heaving nightclub where, in-between tables, camp waiters scurry about serving tiny sausages and champagne.
Glittery Clittery runs at Griffin until 20 July. It’s a delicious night for the fun-spirited. Bring your girl squad. Bring your man. Bring the feminist fuckboi in your life and watch his reactions, closely.