Well I’ll make no bones of the fact that here at NEHIB we are major fangirls of Jess Love. A stupendously dynamic performer, she is at her best when pushing the limits. The limits of circus, of the artform, of her body, of her audience. Her one woman show, Notorious Strumpet, Dangerous Girl, is all about pushing the limits, and how totally terrifying that actually is.
It’s super raw. Stripped back. A story of becoming. A tale of downfall. It’s got all the bits and pieces that would make a stellar Hollywood movie pitch. It’s even got a convict ancestor and a family you just don’t fit into.
It’s also got a dark edge. It’s a deep dive off a sheer cliff face into the stark reality of alcoholism.
The show has enough pithy statements and throwaway jokes that those who haven’t experienced mind-numbing addiction will find it funny, moving, an education even, an insight. But for those of us who have been down that path, it is a bittersweet cloudy mirror. You can’t cry like that on a stage unless you have cried like that.
That’s the problem with being a good-time girl. You get to be more than other people, but there is always a price. You can be higher than anyone else ever was… but you have to ride the comedown all the way to the final stop.
Love demonstrates her skill as an actor, moving casually through scenes, throwing on different characters like hats, and turning her charm and charisma onto the audience like a firehose. Love demonstrates her skill as a circus artist, skipping harder and faster than a crossfit junkie, and whirling 20-something hulahoops in a furious cyclone. When she does a drunken trapeze scene, you have to remind yourself that she is not actually drunk, and she is not actually in danger… probably.
The show explores Love’s feelings of displacement as a child, and as a young thrill seeker, who was a part of family that she appeared to be vastly different to. Exploring her family history, she discovers an ancestor, who may just be the family throwback she was looking for. Her great great grandmother, Julia Mullins: thief, prostitute, and drunk, transported to Australia courtesy of the crown. As she learns more about her relatives exploits and wanton refusal to back down, she finds a kind of peace, a reckoning of sorts.
It’s a confessional, a becoming. It’s cathartic, if that’s your vibe. It’s amusing, if you just want to laugh at a hotmess. It’s a rocking good time and a truth bomb and a masterclass in pickpocketing and a journey and a glass of heady fizz and a morning after pill. Yep, safe to say we are still fangirls here at NEHIB.
Nadia Jade saw Notorious Strumpet, Dangerous Girl at Brisbane Powerhouse on Friday 23 November 2018.
Written and Performed by Jess Love
Director | Dimitri Hatton