There are some shows that I find easy to review. I leave the theatre with pretty much fully formed thoughts immediately. Power Ballad, currently showing at Basement Theatre, is very much not one of these shows.
Created by Julia Croft and directed by Nisha Madhan, Power Ballad concerns itself with language – both the verbal and the body kind. Set on an almost bare stage featuring only a microphone and its stand, a mesmerising Croft opens the show and stays on stage as the solo performer throughout.
Croft has a few characters throughout this show. The most visually confronting being the opening bare breasted woman, who seems to almost contort around the microphone as she discovers language for the first time.
Another version of Croft showcases what happens when you omit parts of language. The audience is presented with a monologue of sorts but with gaps in replacement of certain words, making it impossible to understand her speech.
The language concept is best unpacked in the middle of the show. Croft showers us with a myriad of words. Insults, compliments, feminism. Presenting, probing and changing their meanings. FACT! FEELING! IT’S JUST A WORD! Croft yells and jokes with us, forcing herself and the audience to question the power behind language.
Power Ballad sells itself as “part performance lecture, part karaoke party”. At different points throughout the show the audience is provoked to sing by Croft turning the microphone to face them, projected lyrics appear on the wall behind her. A silent example of communication. The only downfall with this was my lack of familiarity with the songs. I don’t know if the people around me were as musically uneducated as myself or just a bit shy, but there was definitely a feeling of hesitation.
Power Ballad asks a fair bit of its audience. A demanding, and at times confusing show, it calls for ongoing thought. The the type of theatre that will pop into your head months down the track, it’s worth a watch.
Catch Power Ballad at Basement Theatre until June 17th. Tickets are available here.
Power Ballad is a double bill with Croft’s If There’s Not Dancing at the Revolution, I’m Not Coming and part of a Fringe fundraising season. Zanetti Productions is taking three shows to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival – Jane Doe (showing 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.