Taking a confrontational stand for the rights of many, ‘Bitch On Heat’ opened to mass adoration.
A symbolic show which aimed to set the record straight for sexual politics, it certainly divided and conquered audiences as they fell in love with the routines of performance artist, Leah Shelton.
Essentially a one-woman act, ‘Bitch On Heat’ was filled with satire, lip-syncs, burlesque routines, pole dancing, narrative voice-overs and dark comedy. It pitted the attitudes of society against current topical debates and out-dated beliefs.
In an age where movements like #metoo are growing, ‘Bitch On Heat’ ensured the conversation continued. It was a pop-fuelled critique that challenged privilege, entitlement and feminism to shift thoughts and increase the collective awareness.
Director, Ursula Martinez, has artfully worked her magic across the set and within the world of Pandora’s Box. The trust between Leah and Ursula is evident as they navigated myths in a latex-fused, totally relevant and risqué entendre. The set itself, although plastic and regal, unfolded to reveal a range of spectacular components that were used to the nth degree.
Leah was an amalgamation of juxtaposing characters and she effortlessly blended from one scene to the next. Her physicality expressed raw emotion and was exceptional – an especially hard feat when dialogue comes from recorded tracks and instrumental support.
The soundscape, designed by Kenneth Lyons, was catchy, well-picked and totally fitting for this production. At times it made you groove and at others, it cemented really poignant moments.
The seamless energy, ruthless content and atmospheric ambience provoked thoughts about the sexual representations and shifted typical dynamics of power.
A stand-out comical characterisation was Leah’s instructional and step-wife persona. During this scene, the audience was reminded how to deal with love and how to maintain your existence as a doormat. It was cruelly hilarious, with harsh realistic undertones. In a figurative way, it identified where women were at, how far the population has come, but also how long the journey in front seems to be.
The only downfall of the night was the way a sold-out crowd was seated in the Powerhouse Turbine Studio. Chairs were arranged in a cabaret-styled layout, but for those in the back row, viewpoints were obstructed by those in front – it wouldn’t be a massive concern if action wasn’t performed at eye level.
That being said, it’s a true testament to how the show made us want to see more of Leah Shelton. Even if that meant sitting up straight and straining for a vantage point between heads.
‘Bitch On Heat’ packs a lot of bark. It’s an interesting piece of theatre that provoked opinions, prodded at society and interrogated a conversation that has taken so long to have.