Depending which website you look at, Liz Skitch is referred to as a comedian, actor, clown, bouffon, writer, director and social satirist. Her current show, produced by her company deBASE productions, claims to “hold a mirror up to contemporary self-obsession”. Spoilt revolves around 5 stereotypically spoilt female characters: a reality TV ‘star’, a celebrity trainer, a marriage celebrant and sometime lounge singer, a PR consultant and event coordinator, and a unique type of bridezilla.
Skitch trained under French master clown, pedagogue, and professor of theatre, Philippe Gaulier in London. Gaulier’s approach to performance is apparently grounded in the principle of Le Jeu – 'the game', and we can see evidence of this approach in Skitch’s presence on stage. There is a definite sense of passion and fun in her development of each character, and specifically in her interactions with the audience, of which there are many.
Each character is defined only by the choice of wig, shoes and a few accoutrements – such as a large beaded necklace or wedding veil… and Skitch’s impressive ability to change her entire physicality to match each character. The transformation occurs gradually as she takes off one wig and accessories and moves to the next. We do not see her own personality appear, she maintains a neutral mask until the next character begins to emerge. First her walk changes, and the set of her shoulders, her voice, her facial expression, and the transformation is complete when she dons the latest wig and slips into the shoes.
According to their website, deBASE claims a “vision to enact social change through comic performance” and “to challenge ‘our audiences to question stereotypes”. I found these characters, however, so exaggeratedly stereotypical, as to be totally removed from reality, and therefore beyond any connection to actual social change. From a purely comedic viewpoint however, the characters were delivered with a great deal of humour, and the audience was thoroughly entertained. Laughs were frequent, and once it became apparent the level of audience participation that would be involved, perhaps a modicum of dread that you would be next! The character were also connected, very cleverly, into one narrative, culminating in a lavish celebrity wedding at which each character was in attendance.
The setting for the show was exceedingly simple. The small stage at the Butterfly Club was empty, beyond the small collection of props for each character, arranged on mannequins in each corner of the space. The minimal music and sound effects required were pre-recorded. Despite the lack of props to set the scene, each character easily drew us in to their world, and Skitch was able to make the setting clear. In fact, she held the audience’s attention so intensely, that external details were unnecessary. Skitch’s delivery was fast paced and intense, sometimes dancing close to the edge of good taste (and in one distinctive moment at the end of the show, leaping over it!), but always entertaining.
‘Spoilt’ is a satirical, mocking look at the lives of 5 women and how they are connected. According to Gaulier, “The ideal performance for a bouffon would be one where the audience is wildly entertained, go home, realize that their lives are meaningless and commit suicide.” While the audience was in little danger, they were wildly entertained. For a night of lighthearted entertainment and audience participation, check out Liz Skitch in ‘Spoilt’ at the Butterfly Club until the 6th of April.