Review By Rosie Niven
Ever wanted to learn the art of shoulder dancing? Perhaps you’ve yearned to engage a group of random theatregoers in a therapy circle where you each divulge your secrets. What about climbing to the top of a multi-level marketing scheme in the blink of an eye? If any of those appeal to you, you’re in luck - you can experience all that and more at Introducing Aunty Jude at the Seymour Centre this September as part of the Sydney Fringe Festival. Directed by Shy Magsalin, Introducing Aunty Jude is a solo exploration (and celebration) of women who live outside of the box.
Performer Alison Bennet is charismatic and vibrant in her portrayal of Aunty Jude. Accompanied by cellist Mary Rapp (with dynamic music composed by Maria Alonsine and Damian de Boos-Smith), Bennet captures us from the moment she walks onto the stage, her passion for shoulder dancing contagious. I’ll admit, I was tired walking into the late night show after a long day, but Bennet has a way of mesmerising the audience with just a simple look, and soon I’d forgotten about everything except the wonderful absurdity that was unfolding in front of me.
A 60-minute solo comedy performance is no easy feat, especially one that requires so much audience interaction. Bennet takes each moment in her stride, inviting us one by one into the absurd world of Aunty Jude. With a sea of shoulder pads, rope circles of vulnerability, dance battles and pinatas, Introducing Aunty Jude is 60 minutes of pure chaos. I laughed, I shoulder-danced, and I think at some point along the way I got sucked into an MLM. At no point could I predict what would happen next, but I trusted Aunty Jude to take me on a delightful journey - and that she did.
Aunty Jude doesn’t fit into the world in a traditional way, but it doesn’t seem to faze her. The way in which Bennet holds the space allows Aunty Jude’s pride in her own identity to radiate across the theatre, and in doing so, we’re invited to celebrate our own oddities too. Introducing Aunty Jude is a beautiful invitation to just be silly. In introducing us to Aunty Jude, we are introduced to new parts of ourselves.
You’ve got a few days left to catch Aunty Jude in all her glory at the Seymour Centre, but if you miss out, she’ll be bringing her shoulder dancing to Riverside Theatres in Parramatta from September 15 - 17. Wherever you see it though, you must see it - I have not smiled through an entire show in such a long time, excited to see what would come next, and that is all down to Aunty Jude.