Bang or Bust?

It's a funny thing about Charlotte Ford's Live Arts Festival show, Bang: about half the men I've encountered who saw it liked it, while every single one of the women to whom I've spoken about it really, really liked it. However, the other half of those men called it variously "pointless," "silly," "gimmicky," "stupid" and "lazy."

It's no big news that an audience sometimes disagrees on the success of a show, but the gender split here is pretty striking. For my part, I'm 100% on board with Toby Zinman's review, right down to feeling that the final bit undermines Ford's triumphant naked strut through Old City. 

Maybe women have an intrinsic understanding of the maneuvers behind Etzold's, Ford's and Sanford's clown personae that escapes a lot of men. And plenty of men mistake the personae women adopt when they know they're being watched for their true identity. After all, men fall in love with strippers and hookers all the time. Perhaps there's a pitch at which women operate that's just outside the hearing of some men; where they watch Bang and see a bunch of nonsense, we see tropes being turned inside out.

Part of it may also be that the trio explores just a bit about what it means to live in a woman's body, to live up to the culture's exhibitionistic standards when, in fact, you jiggle, you're awkward, you don't feel like it. The women remove their feminine mystique along with their clothes and make themselves ridiculous. I guess, if you take your sex seriously, or prefer women and their desires to be the butt of jokes rather than men and theirs, that makes some people mad. 

Feel free to agree or disagree. I'd really love to hear from other audience members.

And aside from nudity, another theme that's emerging this Fringe season is the claiming of female sexual identity--it's here, in Theatre Exile's production of Adam Rapp's The Edge of Our Bodies, and, from what I understand, also in Young Jean Lee's upcoming Untitled Feminist Show, which I'll review next week.

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