Right. So. Betty Grumble. What to say about her and her latest show that do them both justice. This isn't going to be easy. If you are familiar with Betty Grumble and you've enjoyed the work of this self-professed Sex Clown, trust me – just buy a ticket and get your butt down to the Butterfly Club immediately. If you are scratching your head and saying Betty who? And wondering what the hell a sex clown is anyway... bear with me here.
Betty Grumble is indeed a sex clown of the fiercest, most statuesque, intellectual and hilarious kind. She is a hard-line feminist and ecosexual warrior who is full of love. She is awesome, fearless (even if she did recently confess to Australian Stage that she sometimes feels scared... that is so hard to believe after experiencing her show) and proud to be a woman. She is a force of nature, a performer without peer. If you're thinking at this point that I'm gushing a little, you're right. If you think I'm exaggerating, nope. Just ask anyone who attended opening night on Tuesday. We laughed. We cheered. We applauded. We just couldn't get enough Grumble.
So what of the show? After seeing Emma Maye Gibson's alter ego on several occasions (the evolution of Betty fascinating to see), I saw and was amused by the sparkler-up-the-bum opening of one show and watched wide-eyed in disbelief at the lip-synching climax of another. As you see where she is going, you shake your head and think surely she's not going to... OMG she is totally doing that! This time, Betty opened Love & Anger with a refined (???) version of that lip-synching segment and it was surreal and hilarious, leaving the seasoned Betty fan wondering where in the hell she can possibly go from here. I mean, you just can't get any more hilariously lewd than this, can you?
This is Betty Grumble, precious reader, and yes she can.
It has to be said that Betty Grumble has a magnificent body. For how much of it we see for so much time on stage, it's a small miracle that she manages to somehow normalise such nudity. It actually isn't a sleazy or sexy show, in spite of all of her magnificent bits. Some of that has to to with the grotesque mask she wears (wonderful and intriguing to see her remove the mask this time), but it's also due to the distracting nature of her impressive talent – she sings, she dances, she jests, she pontificates, she loves. And she really is so very good at all of these things.
Also, it's an educational show. Betty quotes at length from The SCUM Manifesto by Valerie Solanis. I was not really aware of this hard-line feminist book first published in 1967 but now want to read it. Thank you Betty.
On behalf of everyone, thank you also for the generous gift of your original, take-home works of art. I don't know what the guy is going to do with the sprinkle covered pooh wrapped in the bio-degradable cling film (You rock, you ecosexual), but I think there will be quite a few framed portraits of your Betty Bits mounted on walls around Melbourne this week. I know that in Grumpy & The Dreaded One's Little Cafe Of Awesome in Fitzroy, my take-home piece of Betty is going to make for a particularly interesting conversation starter. “Hey, Grumpy... you usually have interesting art on the wall, but that piece there... what's the story behind that?”
“Ah. I'm glad you asked. What do you see in this image?”
And where the lip-synching sequence once seemed such an out-there climax to the show, we now have what might be called The Re-Flowering Of Grumble. Extraordinary. You won't believe that you can shake your head in disbelief and admiration whilst laughing so hard.
I've used the word hilarious much throughout this review, but Love & Anger isn't merely funny, it really is hilarious. And genius. If you enjoy lewd comedy with a big heart and a big brain, you need some Grumble in your life. If, however, you're a bit of a prude, still go see this show; it might just fix you up.
Post-show, a friend told me with some surprise, “I actually heard you laughing.” I heard me laughing too. I'm not a laugher. My laugh is rarer than the toenail clippings of a mermaid. And yet I laughed. Laughed and laughed.
The Butterfly Club
Love & Anger
Venue: The Butterfly Club | 6 Carson Place, Melbourne (Off Little Collins St)
Dates: 28 November – 3 December 2017
Tickets: $32 – $28
Bookings: 03 9663 8107 | thebutterflyclub.com