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Review: Split Lip at the Seymour Centre - Syd Fringe

Review by Kate Gaul

A regular on the Perth scene, Ginava is now in Sydney. And not a moment too soon. Split Lip is incredible, and I’ll say straight up that the marketing does not do this show justice. This is drag and lip synch but there’s not a song played.

The work defies category. Go Go GO!

Split Lip follows multiple personalities through their struggles within a psychiatric institution. Ginava flawlessly lip syncs to a series of pop culture voice overs. Her face, gestures and movements are beyond brilliant. This is a work that is meticulously created and presented. A focussed simple setting of desk, chair, and side trolley in which there is a collection of wigs – and yes, they are all worn. Ginava scribbles in a book. She is dressed in a version of a hospital gown. Her white-face makeup is haunting with its red lips and dark eyes. The rapid lighting changes and brilliant mashing together of sound bites from movies, television, and other media, through which Ginava cuts manically, are cut way above the usual fringe fair. The movement, pacing and precision are exceptional. It’s exciting to see what is possible in this format: that fringe can be incisive, polished, intelligent.

A number of personalities are on display. The changes of wig – when used – are pure class. The audience is held, captivated, on the edge of seats waiting to see what’s next.

A light google tells me that Ginava is mother to a Perth collective of subversive artists who revel in challenging thinking with their brand of club kid art, Gendermess. This is a form of rebellious performance art. It all began in back-alley clubs and has a huge influence on RuPaul’s Drag Race. RuPaul herself began as a club kid. It is so much more than drag yet is often included under that umbrella. They are often the most maligned of performance artists, who claw their way up to be respected. Apparently, Ginava usually works with oversized costumes that go beyond drag into the realm of art and design.

Split Lip is an altogether more personal affair. The work explores acceptance, moving past adversity and is ultimately life affirming. It’s kind of obvious that after 40+ minutes of lip synching we will hear her real voice. When it comes, the monologue is vulnerable, moving, jolting. One of the best shows of this year. Do not miss it!

Image Supplied


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