Julia Taudevin has made a name for herself with her galvanising piece of provocative gig-theatre, closing Paisley’s Spree Festival with a punk-shaped bang. Collaborating with Tuff Love, otherwise known as Julia Eisenstein and Susan Bear, as well as Kim Moore, who is formally of Zoey Van Goey, Taudevin has the discordant punch, and riotous sounds underscoring her anger.
Beginning “I’m not going to tell you her hair colour. Her skin colour. Whether she has an almond or a heart shaped face. All you need to know, right now, is that she is a person. Walking up a street. A street that you know,” the audience is lured into thinking that there will be a despondency with “she” and certainly have no conception that she has the delinquent traits, which stems from the rage and frustration of surviving within a female suppressed society.
With this rousing piece, through spoken word and punk the lead is led to an inevitable ending: the 17th floor of one of those phallic-shaped corporate buildings that reach up into the sky. She has 500lb of dynamite in her bra and she’s going to blow the patriarchy right off in order to “wake us not hurt us”. The format of this thought-provoking theatre, albeit odd, works. With punk riffs that reference the likes of Patti Smith, a vocalised exhibition of a performance that reminds me of Siouxsie Sioux, and a repetitive spoken word component that indoctrinates the audiences’ minds, the feminist development of character and plot becomes conceivable. The sexual politics in this short hour is fierce.
Taking its inspiration from the actions and writings of 1980s Canadian anarchist activists Ann Hansen and Julie Belmas, the reference is subtle, unlike the performance. There is no forgetting that this woman is an activist in this piece, but also at the core is that she is an anonymous woman, who grew up understanding that within society there is some degree of oppression towards females. The example of her brother being able to piss freely, whilst she must remain more prude and conservative is effective. She progresses through life working for the corporate businesses, whitewashed, but this all comes to a halt after she ends up with a male boot into her face, which rearranges her nose, her female aesthetic.
Taudevin fronts the stage with a mesmerising command, referencing musicians and poets of the punk era that have too been evocatively entertaining their audiences on feminism. Obtuse in style, stirring in effect, Blow Off will stun all that sit for the worthwhile hour; an immense finale to Paisley’s Spree Festival.
Photo by Nigel Deayton of the Paisley Photoshop.