Auckland’s Basement Theatre is an interesting place. Modern, funny and socially aware, there’s always something up and coming to hold your attention. So for a show to run not one, not two, but three seasons there, you know it’s got to be pretty special.
If There’s Not Dancing at the Revolution, I’m Not Coming is Julia Croft’s incredibly successful solo show, currently showing at our favourite theatre spot. Full disclosure, I actually reviewed the first season of this show in 2015 – and totally loved it. You can check out that review here. So when the opportunity arose to see If There’s Not Dancing again, you can bet I put my hand up.
Directed by Virginia Frankovich, If There’s Not Dancing is a contemporary examination of Laura Mulvey’s male gaze. Using film tropes and feminine stereotypes Croft forces her audience to think a little deeper about the impossibly sexy yet demure, intelligent yet impressionable, modern woman. This is done through quick changes and a whole lot of mess. Breathless panting underlines the whole show as Croft goes from an uncomfortable McDonalds/Coke advertisement to Paris Hilton in House of Wax.
From what I can see, little has changed in If There’s Not Dancing over the years. There’s a few blocking differences and maybe song updates. Honestly, I don’t blame them. If There’s Not Dancing hit the nail on the head the first time, and there’s so many people who still need to see the original version of it.
What makes this particular season of If There’s Not Dancing interesting is it’s pairing with Croft’s newer solo show, Power Ballad. Basement Theatre is running these shows pretty much back to back on the same nights, making it easy to see their links. I won’t go into what I thought of Power Ballad (you can check out my review here), but the development of Croft’s thoughts is clear. Where If There’s Not Dancing is pretty overt in it’s message, Power Ballad, which looks at language and feminism, makes its audience think a little more.
If There’s Not Dancing ends with a completely naked Croft elevated on the stage. Her head covered in the costumes used in the play, she presents a clear and successful message of the stereotyped woman exhausted. Power Ballad opens with a shirtless Croft making her way across the stage. I at first wondered if seeing nudity in Power Ballad lessened the effect of it in If There’s Not Dancing. However, my theatre pal made the good point that as a male it made Croft’s second performance all the more confronting. Towards the start of If There’s Not Dancing a very clothed Croft tells the audience they are thinking about her breasts, “they’re good breasts”. Having already seen Croft’s naked chest, this makes this moment all the more provoking, you can’t help but conjure up an image.
Two years later, If There’s Not Dancing remains as important and impressive as ever. Unquestionably still one of my favourite shows, I urge you to see it.
If There’s Not Dancing at the Revolution, I’m Not Coming runs until Saturday 17th. Tickets are available here.
If There’s Not Dancing is a double bill with Power Ballad and part of a Fringe fundraising season. Zanetti Productions is taking three shows to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival – Jane Doe (on at Q Theatre until June 17), Power Ballad and The Road That Wasn't There (July, Herald Theatre). They would love your support! Check out their website for more information - zanetti-productions.com.