Get Her Outta Here

Get Her Outta Here
By Isabella Broccolini. The Sideshow, West End. Anywhere Festival, Brisbane. 14 to 23 May, 2021

Get Her Outta Here is a 40-minute one-woman show by Brisbane-born independent artist, Isabella Tannock, who fearlessly performs as her alter-ego, Isabella Broccolini – a 'Red Lady' clown-like character with exaggerated black eyebrows and red eyeshadow – a kind of cross between Isabella Rossellini and Mary Hardy. The piece starts with the Red Lady lying prone in a large red suitcase, her arms and legs visible – she lies there for a very long time, which gives people at the bar time to take their seats and sip their drinks. You find yourself, as you stare at the image, conjuring possibilities for the show that is about to start: is the woman a victim of violence; a forgotten person; somebody's baggage? All the usual storyline suspects flit through your brain as an evocative electronic soundtrack by Grace Huie Robbins emits a repetitive countdown a la Laurie Anderson.

The piece starts with a quirky recorded phone-sex encounter which the male character ends abruptly, leaving the woman less than satisfied. Is this what has set our 'Red Lady' adrift in her own surreal primordial soup? She emerges from the suitcase – dressed completely in red – and comically uses it to simulate several sex positions. A direct-to-audience narration reveals the character's encounters with men: the 'signet ring man' in the supermarket; the man she frustrates by insisting on freezing his used condoms in her fridge. There is semi-nudity and 'poetic' use of the 'c-word'. After witnessing a disturbing death, the Red Lady finds solace by burying herself in the richness of the earth. These disconnected scenarios may be inspired by the writer/performer mining the surrealness of her own relationships, or just life in the city in general. Does the title allude to the fact that the character wants to ditch her own internal 'Red Lady' who traps her into making all the wrong relationship choices? For me, the best part was the character repeating "sorry" while tripping over invisible people as she wheeled her red suitcase around – apologising for being someone with 'baggage'. If the other stories had connected emotionally in the same way, leading to a less abrupt closing vignette, I think it would make for a more well-rounded viewer experience (with a clear trigger for the audience's final applause).

Get Her Outta Here began its life in Sydney in 2017 and toured to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2019. Broccolini's work has been called 'uniquely Australian' but I'd say it was Austro-European. It has also been likened to a Lynchian 'Fleabag', which would be a great aim, because there is space for more of the comically absurd take on the female experience and Tannock is obviously a very talented performer and creator. The 'Red Lady' character has such potential to work on a wider level with further evolution.

Get Her Outta Here continues at the Anywhere Festival as part of more than 650 live, online and virtual reality performances playing in all sorts of venues in Brisbane, Ipswich and Moreton Bay until 23 May:

Beth Keehn

Photos: Phil Erbacher

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