FRINGE REVIEW: Feminah is Fierce and Funny Cabaret
Charlotte Ottons’ one-woman Fringe show Feminah is a fierce autobiographical manifesto in the guise of light cabaret. Having performed in some of the best reviewed plays of 2018 (such as The Hive, Let Me Finish), she is quickly establishing a name for herself. In Feminah, she showcases her powerful singing voice, comedic timing, and extraordinary vulnerability-turned-bravery on stage. With a charismatic stage presence and a love for independent theatre, Charlotte is a boon for Perth's flourishing arts scene.
Using the bare minimum in the way of staging — a floor stage, a mic, a screen and a man (with the most beautiful hair in the world) on guitar in the corner — ensures all our focus is on her. As she makes her entrance in a blue gingham dress and blonde curly wig reminiscent of a virginal Dolly Parton, Charlotte has the audience breaking down in laughter with the simplest of gestures. The dress becomes a prop for her storytelling and as layers are removed, the anecdotes — while still funny — become darker and more vulnerable as she bares more of her soul.
Feminah explores the plight of every 'woke' female identifying person who is attracted to men — the desire to be fuckable, while still being ourselves. And being ourselves sometimes means being gross and loud, using our bodies in ways that aren’t sexy, and battering up against societal expectations that tell us that being conventionally attractive is still the most important thing in this life. The narrative that ties it all together is the progression of feminism over the last hundred or so years. Strung together, it’s clear how women are tricked every few decades to think “Oh this is it, we are free now!” when really, there has just been the removal of one layer of oppression.
The strength of Feminah is in Charlotte's willingness to be completely vulnerable. There are times during the show where you just want to give her a big hug and tell her everything will be okay — then she turns around and says something so full of truth that you will want to stand and applaud. The fact she achieves this through a rather harried striptease (that isn’t actually a striptease) while singing, “I’m going to make you bow down to this puss” is a plus.
In short, Feminah is a darkly funny exploration of womanhood today, and a must-see of this year’s Fringe season.