Drop Dead Gorgeous

08 11 2022

Photo by Inesa Vėlavičiūtė

Drop Dead Gorgeous

by Inesa Vėlavičiūtė

On the menu of this year’s Fringe is a refreshing, uplifting yet feisty feminist conversation between four young women from India, Taiwan and the UK. Expressed through a blend of contemporary dance, physical theatre and object manipulation, their evocative artistic voice speaks across cultural divides in Drop Dead Gorgeous – a bitingly witty portrayal of the societal pressures on womanhood, social camouflage and the craving to drop the disguise. Inspired by Yukio Mishima’s book of anti—chaste wisdom, THE SAME SAME COLLECTIVE explores the synergies between control and defiance and challenges the imposed codes of conduct through a unique theatrical vision that is stirring the senses and tickling the taste buds. 

The feast begins with a kaleidoscope roundtable of mouth-watering fruits, neatly arranged on a white tablecloth, accompanied by the elegant, fluid artists’ movements and the wind capturing the summer’s fragrant scents. A sensual, choreographed dance invites the audience to a slowly unfolding dramatic narrative. Playing with the principles of movement, the Collective creates a personal three-dimensional space around the table within which each performer operates: the horizontal forward-and-backwards, the horizontal left-to-right, and vertical up-and-down. Mirroring each other’s movements in an orderly manner, they present the concept of social mimicry and the adherence to the subconscious patterns of behaviour during a social ritual of communal eating; the artists ‘perform’ this ritual in order to socially conform. 

As the dance progresses, self-control, boundaries and one’s authentic, inner nature battle in this dynamic performance. Women’s inner dialogues are expertly conveyed through the interactions with food and each other, and echo the following ruminations: ‘Should or shouldn’t I? Well, I could. I’d like to. No, I probably shouldn’t. Ok, just this once.’ The expressive quality of the physical language is derived from the intention and attempt to deconstruct the limitations and rewrite the rules. 

As a result, the charm of the rehearsed dance is short-lived and the carefully arranged table display soon succumbs to what can only be described as brilliantly organised chaos. The balletic grace gives way to uniquely whimsical, ridiculous movements and clowning combinations, creating a physical comedy and embracing the rebellious thoughts these women previously felt compelled to hide. At their most unrestrained, the performers become lost in the juicy mess that appears to be part-improvised and spontaneous: they bite, fight, munch, roll over the scattered fruit pieces galore and the freshly squeezed extravaganza with the energy and passion that enthrals the audience and induces side-splitting laughter till the very last minute of the show. 

Done to the overall comedic effect, the performance chews and spits out the deep-rooted opinions, values and beliefs passed down through multi-cultural generations, perpetuating how a ‘perfect woman’ should behave. The symbolic acts and multi-layered meanings constructed by the Collective as well as the artists’ rapport with each other and their ability to perfectly embody the anarchic personalities that carry the show is a sight to behold.