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Friday, July 26, 2024

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Review: I Get So Emotional Baby

I Get So Emotional Baby is a new piece of dance/performance art designed and choreographed by Jessie McCall, a talented artiste who might just be becoming one of my favourite practitioners.

That might sound like a bit over the top, but in the past year, I have seen two other productions she has had a hand in both as a performer and choreographer. The first was a wondrous piece of called  Inflated Rebel, in whichMcCall co-starred and co-created with Rose Philpott. It was a magical show that made a huge impression on me, particularly in one breathtaking scene that you can read about here.  In April this year, I saw another piece McCall had conceived called Daybreak Estate. Once again, this was a quirky, challenging, and very entertaining piece well executed. 

With it seems McCall’s alchemy is working just as strongly in this work as it did in the other two I’ve mentioned. 

In the cavern like main space of Basement Theatre a large plush white piece of carpet covered the floor. On the back wall hung a curtain of clear plastic. Two strips of lightbulbs faced the audience. The softness of the carpet seemed out of place with the plastic and bright lighting. A contrast that echoed much of the action.

In the opening moments, three performers made their way on stage to an emotionally charged ethereal piece of music. They wore clear plastic outfits of different styles, which showed undergarments below. They movements were slow yet stylised and deliberate. It was as though we were watching a fashion show on some dystopian catwalk, and it was hypnotic, yet also faintly amusing. 

According to the handbill the show was designed to investigate the ways in which women’s ownership of their own emotional and body realities is systematically threatened. 

It’s a timely moment then for a piece like this, particularly given the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and the recent killing of a young woman in Iran. 

At times I wasn’t exactly sure of the message, but it didn’t matter because each routine was compelling. I did think that some of the moments were about addiction, self destruction, body image issues, jealousy and conformity. Once or twice, I even felt the work was showing the neglect and indifference we can show to one another. Some scenes appeared very controlled, such as the opening ‘cat walk’ while others were wild and frenzied. The piece included some very clever use of props such as a garbage can, a wine flask, and hair clips, one of which at one point graphically represented a piece of female anatomy that was both confronting and hilarious.

In some ways, it is hard to describe each of the individual moments because despite their obvious power and impact, I feel they need to be seen and interpreted by each individual.  What I can say is that I Get So Emotional Baby is a glorious mixture of whimsy, anger, sadness, humour, tragedy and heart. 


$18 – $38




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