By Naomi Hamer
We’re not led into Gritty in Pink so much as welcomed in the door by Georgia Watkins as her best friends at a sleepover, sometime in the early to mid 2000s. The speakers are pumping pop music that takes me back to my childhood, the stage floor is chequered black and white like a chessboard and we are invited to sit on the cushions and stools. To start this sleepover off we’re playing the classic drinking game Never Have I Ever. Watkins starts us off with a test question before going through a series of questions that begin light hearted but suddenly take a turn. Instead of shots, we all hold up our hand and put a finger down if we have done that thing. After Never Have I Ever, Watkin’s cleverly layers image after image, building as she goes, becoming darker and more grotesque as the evening continues. From carefully layering soft pieces of fabric in different shades and textures of pink, red and silver onto a table and laying out jelly in different shades of pink onto plates which are set aside. Reappearing towards the end to be chopped up with even more jelly and then spoonfed to herself while remixed video closeups of an anonymous female’s mouth saying “moist” are projected behind her. The image becoming more and more grotesque as the jelly oozes in and out of her mouth, down her face, body and thighs, while Watkins bounces on an exercise ball.
Early on, Watkins begins chewing an entire packet of pink Hubba Bubba bubblegum, deliberately leaving it on the table for later. In a similar vein, she picks up a banana and begins playing with it - miming blowing it, giggling like a school girl, talking on the phone and using it as a gun. Playing with and then blowing up a condom like a balloon, an innocent and funny moment feels violent when the condom is thrown away and the banana is peeled and bitten into. We follow each individual bite. Picking the bubblegum back up again towards the end, her chewing becomes more exaggerated. Really focusing on making a bubble, picking up other bits of the already chewed bubblegum and joining them together, slowly but surely creating a very bright, fleshy almighty piece of pink gum from the entire packet. A bubble is blown. The gum is stashed aside.
We are recounted personal tales of Georgia’s best friend loving the colour pink at a young age, so, so did Georgia. Before she began hating the colour, perhaps because it represented feminism, which was obviously pointless because we already had equality, duh. Maybe there is no real reason, maybe she just doesn’t like it for any number of reasons but that’s not the point.
What sleepover is complete without a gospel remix of Julia Gillard refusing to be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man or a game of Pin the clit? The performance takes a dark turn when we are reminded of the reality of how many women have died from domestic violence so far this year in New South Wales alone in a game of Murder in the Dark. One of the most sobering moments in Gritty in Pink, Watkins handles it in a witty way and the whole audience is silent except for me letting out a sad laugh.
Are we nostalgic for what sometimes appears to be a simpler time? Gritty in Pink is the second reference to Nikki Webster I have seen in two very different performances in Sydney in less than a week. Although I can’t think of a better song than Strawberry Kisses to represent the catchy, boppy, innocence of the early 2000s and sexual innuendo at the same time. Getting down to her underwear while reperforming the overtly sexualised workout routine from Erik Prydz’s Call on Me video clip, projected behind her and remixed with Strawberry Kisses, the strong presence of the patriarchy and the male gaze come to mind.
Gritty in Pink is created and performed by Georgia Watkins with an aptly pink hued lighting design by Louise Reilly and Rachael Adamson as stage manager. Gritty in Pink is a sharp and pointed look at the tensions of the male gaze, femininity, the patriarchy and why the colour pink is still so political. How far have we really come but how far do we still have to go, you’ll have to come and see because this show is not to be missed. Now can someone please send me the playlist from this show, please?
Gritty in Pink runs from 3 - 7 September 2019 at The Emerging Artists Sharehouse - The Spare Room (Erskineville Town Hall) as part of Sydney Fringe.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.