Brodie John has a story to tell and it’s a raw tale of sexual assault, consent and how to move on. John presents himself onstage as a burlesque performer exiting the stage to rapturous applause before telling his tale directly to the audience interspersed with pre-recorded spoken word and some lovely bon mots that bring chuckles that perfectly break up the prose.
There’s a spectacular piece of testimonial theatre hidden in there somewhere
It’s an all-too common tale of an abuse of trust leading to physical assault and John is open about the experience from the start but Burlesque By Force doesn’t have the impact that one would expect from such a personal tale. Although John is open, vulnerable and raw, we never truly experience the pain he’s battling and the piece feels a little too safe in its execution.
When statistically, there must be others in the audience with similar experiences, there’s an anticipation that this show might be a primal scream from a clearly talented performer but there’s a sense of disconnect from the subject matter. The piece sits too comfortably in its own safe space when it should be addressing John’s inner strife and challenging the audience. There are so many moments when the monologue moves into a dark place before veering back to safer banter and flirtation.
There’s a spectacular piece of testimonial theatre hidden in there somewhere and this show will stay with you for a while, whether the subject matter affects you personally or not. John is an actor with great potential and I’ll be fascinated to see how this work develops.