The Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights and writer/performer Charlotte Otton present the feminist cabaret “Feminah”. Returning to The Blue Room Theatre for Fringe World after her debut sell-out season of “Let Me Finish” in October 2018, Otton’s brand new work “Feminah” is a one-woman show: an opportunity for Otton to shine and show the full potential of her talent as a theatre maker and performer.
Otton explores the concept of femininity by imparting facts (sometimes with visual aids on a screen) from the 1800s through to the present day, and includes songs from the era that reflect the supposed expectations and preoccupations of women at the time. Accordingly, Otton briefly comments or scoffs at the lyrics of the songs as she sings them. Accompanied by musical director Joe Lui on guitar, the musical interludes offer suitable reiterations of the main themes of the show. Otton has a wonderfully quirky and technically brilliant singing voice; and her presence as a performer is mesmerising.
As well as historical facts and songs, Otton adds personal stories and significant events that all play into the themes of sexuality and gender. Otton is essentially commenting on the expectations of etiquette and good manners, particularly regarding a woman’s persona, role in society and how she may be regarded by men. In a rather clumsy, often funny and self-deprecating shedding of the layers of clothing, Otton’s vulnerability is exposed. At the same time, Otton interweaves moments of rebellion, vulgarity and defiance that subvert the vulnerability and expectations of self and society. “Feminah” exposes the indoctrination of girls and women to be ‘lady-like’ and ‘virginal’ in a world that, on the one hand, embraces the pornography industry, while at the same time, succeeds in focussing impressionable minds on physical appearance, sexual proclivity and assurance of others as a means to acquiring self-worth.
With the assistance of mentor and dramaturg Libby Klysz, it is apparent that Otton’s talent as a writer and performer is being nurtured. “Feminah” is a kind of exorcism of the impressionable female. This ‘rabbit hole’ has many twists and turns as Otton reveals her gradual realisations and epiphanies along the way. The final song and sexual proclamation: “I’m going to make you bow down to this puss” encapsulates Otton’s decisiveness (albeit comedic) to find another way forward with the emotional maturity and self-awareness her experiences and observations have provided.
“Feminah” is showing at The Blue Room Theatre, Perth Cultural Centre, Northbridge until 26 January.