FRINGE REVIEW: "Wild-Her-Ness" is poetry performed with heart, wit, and love
Standing at the curtained gates of four5nine bar, it felt strange to be seeing yet another poetry show here. The venue has had a long and varied history with Perth’s Spoken Word scene over the last few decades, despite not looking like other timeless performance poetry venues (e.g. an open fire side, a dive bar, a backyard or Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre). The four5nine does kind of bring to mind the dusty readings of New York’s beat generation, but Poppy Sloan’s WILD-HER-NESS! promises a new generation of poet. One whose understanding of womanhood digs deeper and deeper, travelling not only the connection of woman to body but, as Sloan opens the show, ‘to woman as feeling - as something within everybody.’
The stage is set up somewhere between a bedroom, a lounge and a dreamscape. Sloan adapts it to her needs as she travels through time and experience; from storytelling to dorky dance to poetry, unafraid of embarrassment. This is, after all, her space, and we are her guests. She lets us know this as she takes the time to stare down the audience during the dance of a pre-teen at a pyjama party for one.
The stories in question are at once extremely personal and familiar, assessing the movement from girl to woman; from child to adult. At times, the transitions between theatrical genres can be stilted and awkward, but Sloan’s poems, props and understated wit quickly make up for it. She performs each piece in various states of undress, sometimes stained with blood or eggs or wearing a Styrofoam head or peering out from a giant vulva or, my personal favourite, while slow-dancing with an enormous tampon. With so many homemade friends, Sloan almost never feels alone on stage. But she is. And she uses that vulnerability to its fullest extent, levelling the audience with hard-earned wisdom about how to grow through a time in which we are starting to challenge the sexism we see all around us and within ourselves.
WILD-HER-NESS! is a performance about life - in the body, out of the body and always through it. It is a call to explore yourself and how you are born of the world around you. And it’s performed as it was written: with heart and wit and love.
4 out of 5 stars
Wild-Her-Ness runs on the 29th and 31st Jan at four5nine bar. Get your tickets here