An intense, enthralling and fascinatingly uncomfortable exploration of the ageing of an American woman, played with a perfected bleak clowning approach that toys with the crowd and delivers more than they could expect.
Everyone leaves with muddled, smeared, heightened and warped emotions
Playing the slightly cartoonish character of Dale Ravioli throughout, but in different guises, the play and performance by Courtney Pauroso provides a deep exploration of the social contexts that shape and constrain women growing up in America today. Moving from saccharine sweet teen to rave chick to over-relied-upon and undervalued city resident, all with an undercurrent of ensuing sexual objectification, the hopes, fears and resulting dissatisfactions of Ravioli are painful, but viewed through a constantly accumulating kaleidoscope of delightful gags.
A joyful and cocky presence on the stage, Pauroso draws an unsuspecting audience member into a pivotal and hilarious part of the plotline. The comic's visual and spoken cues are incredibly effective and accomplished, helping to instruct the role the audience member is expected to play. Although the rest of the audience were feeling extremely grateful that they weren’t on stage with the sexually suggestive Ravioli, they were in equal parts awed by how seamlessly the recurring audience member had been enabled to fill their role.
Developed as a concept with the assistance of weird clown and prior Fringe-hit Dr Brown, it is no surprise that pronounced physicality and off-the-wall writing structure informs everything that we see. Burlesque, with varying levels of enticement or menace, plays a pivotal role in each section of the show, in one form or another, and successfully works to undercut the audience’s expectations each time. At one point it even resulted in a delightfully squeamish cry from the audience when asked if they want to see more.
Hilarious and unsettling, the entire show is written and delivered with deeply rewarding, sophisticated call-backs to ensure that all the conflicting emotions that are built up throughout become muddled, smeared, heightened and warped in everyone who has enjoyed the glorious presence of Gutterplum.