“Have you ever fantasised about someone like me?” Katy Dye asks the audience, not as an adult woman, not as a performance artist, but as a 15-year-old school girl. Dye’s performance, Baby Face, asks hard-hitting, uncomfortable questions about how we, as a society infantilise women. It explores the ways that we view, encourage and even praise women to act much younger than they are.
Baby Face is a wonderful and unsettling performance that you just can't stop thinking about.
From start to finish, Dye puts the audience through their paces, exploring how society idolises and sexualises women in their early 20s, as school-age teenagers, as primary-schoolers and even as babies. Baby Face explores the actions of women at all stages of their life, and smacks us in the face with truths that we may never have wanted to really address before. Why do we insist on ‘turning back the clock’ on our skin, to render it ‘baby’ soft and hairless? Why is a woman using a ‘baby voice’ perceived to be attractive? Why is there so much sexualisation in how women suck their fingers and act childish? Dye takes these child-like actions and illustrates them in her performance as a fully grown adult; this highlights the sinister undertones to many seemingly normal ways women are portrayed in society and popular media.
The performance is a well-written, bold, fresh take on the sexualisation of women in modern society. Dye tackles a lot of difficult themes and topics throughout the performance, but not all of them have a clear, identifiable message; some of the scenes left me struggling to piece together the message she was trying to articulate. However, the majority of unique takes on day-to-day situations really hammered home her points, and were - upsettingly - relatable. The use of minimal props and staging allowed the audience to focus in on Dye as a performer and complimented the entire atmosphere of the performance. As a performer, Dye is full of precision and phenomenal talent. Every character portrayed, every movement and shape created, every facial expression told a story - she was absolutely mesmerising to watch.
The Festival always delivers a few performances with take-home messages that really stick in your mind, Baby Face is one of those for 2018. A little bit like horror films that you continue to watch despite being terrified, Baby Face is a wonderful and unsettling performance that you just can't stop thinking about.