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The Bally at Gluttony, Tue 6 Mar.
[CABARET/SPOKEN WORD – SA]
Various incarnations of NGR have played at the Fringe and beyond for a fair few years now, and they’ve garnered some high praise and peculiarly profound socio-political insights, and yet certain members of the crowd waiting outside The Bally didn’t exactly look like they were there to engage in intellectualised deconstruction of gender norms. And fair enough too, as the girls (women actually) are burlesque and stripper stars and wholeheartedly enjoy showing off their beautiful bodies – and, well, why not?
When the girls took to the stage (sofas actually), led by co-producer and leader Luna Eclipse, they were wearing dressing-gowns, but these were then removed and that particular evening’s naked quartet sat down and Luna explained what was going to happen (as if, somehow, you’d forgotten the title of the show by that point, and perhaps some of the punters had, and with good reason). They were going to read a series of excerpts from a bunch of books, and yes, there is something pretty sexy about a naked girl who likes to read, although an hour’s worth of them doing it aloud actually proved slightly wearying. But perhaps that was part of the point? The normalisation and destigmatisation of the female body? Um… maybe?
Luna began with sensual passages from two raunchy cookbooks, Foreplay and Burlesque Baking, and then Strawberry Siren continued her personal tradition of choosing Harry Potter books and read a bit from an early section of …The Philosopher’s Stone. Ruby Slippers (looking fabulous with pink-rimmed specs and a sort of sequined lipstick) then took her turn and offered a deadpan section from one of the new parodic Famous Five volumes, Five Go Gluten Free.
Clara Cupcakes (who until her first big moment had offered puzzled commentary while smiling somewhat perplexedly) then jumped in with that “existential classic” The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and this was probably the comic highlight of it all, what with the added gags about cocoon rent and Melbourne’s Moonee Ponds. Surely that’s not quite the manner in which you’re supposed to read it to your kiddies?
Luna offered a little The Witches Of Eastwick, Strawberry a little from a Game Of Thrones volume (yes, the build-up to the ‘Red Wedding’, and she was thrown by the un-PC word “niggardly”), Ruby got into Bear Grylls’ Extreme Food and ghastly details about how to skin a snake (so to speak), and then Clara did The Silence Of The Lambs for a few minutes, with Clarice Starling sounding less Jodie Foster and more a Southern-fried Marilyn Monroe. And then Luna capped it all off with a quite pleasantly straight highlight from one of her favourite books, Like Water For Chocolate, and then, well, that was it and nearly an hour had passed.
So what exactly is Naked Girls Reading all about then? Well, if you’re there to perve at the naked girls then that’s fine, and they’re used to hordes of strangers doing just that, but voyeurs should be warned that all they do is read (this isn’t called ‘Naked Girls Trampolining’, ‘Naked Girls Parachuting’ or even ‘Naked Girls Masturbating’). Is it intended to promote the joys of reading? That could potentially be claimed too, although surely some viewers aren’t exactly listening to George R.R. Martin’s words and are just sitting and staring. Is it funny? Well this, their very first show of this Fringe, was fairly amusing, although the joke wore a little thin. And is it some deep feminist statement, because being naked in public is apparently a revolutionary act? Well, no. Sorry Girls. Read it and weep.
Naked Girls Reading continues at The Bally at Gluttony from 9.15pm until Sun 18 Mar.
Book at FringeTIX on 1300 621 255 and adelaidefringe.com.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.
Image courtesy of Miss Demo Photography