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Baby Face

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Four stars

The high chair that sits to the side of the Tron’s up close and personal Changing House stage is the first clue about live artist Katy Dye’s ferocious solo dissection of the infantilisation of women. With a plastic sheet on the ground, when Dye enters what is effectively an emotional playpen, her introduction comes with a piercing white noise soundtrack. Through this, she lays bare the ever reductive reactions from a man’s world that isn’t shy about pointing out just how much the grown woman she actually is resembles what they used to be able to get away with calling jailbait.

This opens up a fearless critique of the sort of fetishisation of pre-pubescent imagery which has been normalised through everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Britney Spears, both referenced here. Such stereotypical cover girl styling has previously been subverted by the riot grrrl wave of bands, and here Dye picks up the baton over a breathless fifty minutes, in which she shouts, screams, stamps her feet and pretty much everything inbetween. This makes for a wilfully provocative expose of patriarchal values and the sort of iconography that has been sanctioned by mainstream pop culture for decades.

Baby powder, baby lotion and plain old baby love are hurled into the mix of a show first seen on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe last year. Dye isn’t being cute when she does this, and things get messy. As she throws herself into her performance, it becomes a rapid-fire and very necessary attack on received values which challenges notions of complicity and conditioning.

Innocence, experience and the correlation between the two are at the heart of things here, as Dye unflinchingly plays games with the audience in a whirlwind of a performance which is explicit in its intent. While far from subtle, it is nevertheless a timely primer on an increasingly discomforting form of everyday sexploitation, the proponents of which would rather things stayed forever young.

The Herald, February 11th 2019


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