Bitch on Heat

Bitch on Heat
By Leah Shelton. Theatre Works, St Kilda (Vic). May 14 – 19, 2019

Bitch On Heat is the new show by feminist renegade, cabaret performance artist extraordinaire Leah Shelton, also directed by the amazing live art provocateur Ursula Martinez. It is a superb satirical show that taunts us with mythology, “vintage sexism” and delivers a visual post-postmodern mash up.

A stage arrangement equivalent to a Lady Gaga set - the show begins, dubbed 'live- hyper- art’ and or a sculptural art performance, donned in neo classical columns and vases - a moving figure draped in a white sheet gently sways, propped high on a big inflatable pouffe. A roaring thunderclap and lightning flash jolts the audience - a latex wearing - pink-lubber lipped Barbie doll comes to life - an authoritative male voice retells the story of Pandora’s Box - as so the myth goes – “a woman is to blame for the evils of the world”. But we have hope!

Shelton’s talent lies in her ability to play with gender and highlight paradoxical characterizations such as typecasts of a ‘vintage fifties “Las Vegas” ageing male chauvinist’, the trophy wife and mistress. She haphazardly morphs while shedding her multi-layered latex with svelte sexiness and snappy cabaresque bounce and rhythm. This in itself is a raw challenging delivery against her patriarchal nemesis. 

The sound design  (Kenneth Lyons) is a brilliant eclectic mix of poignant and sharp sound bytes and lighting design (Jason Glenwright) is a mixed bag of spectacular neon strobe and sharp lighting effects. Superb set and costumes reflect farcical grandeur and a high-art kookiness, designed by Leah Shelton.

Shelton is a mesmerizing performer, tantalizes us with grotesque sexualisations of the human character and gives us her passionate-surreal visual extravaganza bathed in anti-patriarchal high jinks. There is a lot to be done in a show that is only forty-five minutes and she outshines herself with a visual cornucopia of high-campy brilliance.

Flora Georgiou

Photographer: FenLan Chuang

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