Betty Grumble: Sex Clown Saves the World
Review by Cicely Binford
Betty Grumble has some ardent fans out there, and on opening night they were indeed ‘Betty to Grumble!’ She’s come to Fringe World with her ecosexual entreaty to fight against misogyny and the destruction of Earth, Betty Grumble: Sex Clown Saves the World, and her followers are eager to receive her gospel. Playing to a packed out crowd of clown-curious Fringe-goers at the Circus Theatre in the Perth Cultural Centre, it seems that though not everyone in the audience was converted, most people found her message compelling, to say the least.
Looking like Dee Snider’s Twisted little Sister under a pound of clown makeup and ten pounds of curly blond wig, Betty (Emma Maye Gibson) emerges half-naked from a rubbish bin in front of a pile of paper, plastic, costumes, wigs and other bright-coloured debris. She spends most of the show in various states of undress, simultaneously giving us both sexy posturing and brazen grotesqueness. Somewhere amongst Betty’s mess she pulls out a beach ball painted to resemble our big blue planet, and leads us in a pledge to enter into a loving relationship with the Earth. She’s an ecosexual, and she’s coming out.
As far as political statements go, hers are loud if not terribly clear, and the through-line seems somewhat obscured by all the fanfare, fumbling and facade of the Betty Grumble character. Moments of high shock value are dampened by some head-scratching downtime in between that sees her fiddling with props and costumes. A few set-ups were left without much pay-off, but the point where message and method coalesced the most effectively was when Betty performed a dance to an increasingly aggressive soundtrack of sexist remarks made by a man. This was met by cheers of solidarity and recognition, but not everyone felt at ease during that dance.
And not everyone was prepared to stay to the end. Patrons should sincerely heed the nudity and age warnings and the ‘HOT’ Fringe UV Rating where Betty Grumble is concerned, but if this isn’t your first time around the Fringe block and you’ve seen the likes of The Freak and the Show Girl or Yana Alana without blushing or bolting for the exit door, you’ll be fine here.
Betty Grumble: Sex Clown Saves the World runs until Friday the 3rd. For more information and tickets, visit the Fringe World website here.