Grumble: Sex Clown Saves the World

Kate Bush may well have adopted a new receptacle in the form of a skimpy harlequin from down under. Self-professed ‘eco-sexual’, Betty Grumble’s surrealist, circus-themed burlesque shatters the barriers of conventional cabaret to bring a unique exhibition to the Fringe. We begin in a sea of neon fog amidst a jungle of cackling, crooning, cawing and hooting, growing to a thunderous crescendo until the house lights come up to reveal our star on her Leo-Sewell inspired stage pull her head and lime green high heels out of a dust bin. Without hesitation, Grumble dives head first into several musical numbers as she seamlessly glides from funk and disco to big band and orchestra, traversing many decades and genres to deliver in style.

In between the on-stage naked transitions and surreal, pantomime-esque stunts reliant upon shock-value lies a true virtuoso

Grumble’s hands-on approach is not for the faint-hearted, so if you choose to sit in the front row be warned. She doesn’t tickle your wrist with a feather duster, but rather clambers across several rows of audience members to lick the sweat off your neck. Though outlandish, it maintains a fine balance between camp and earthy, optimistic and sardonic. It brought to life how much can be communicated when feminist interpretation is broken down to disregard its theory-laden components with a postmodern approach to body image. And, once you buy into the concept of an ecosexual show, it’s a whole lot of fun. Indeed, the political undertones don’t dilute the entertainment on stage and Grumble doesn’t resort to screaming textbook campus slogans at the audience, but instead lampoons her patriarchal nemesis with satire whilst addressing more discernible concepts such as body image through the medium of dance. And it goes without saying that Grumble is undeniably a very talented dancer who uses every muscle in her body to leave you laughing; that includes the sexual ones too.

The act suffers in its infancy as there is no guiding introduction to just who or what Betty Grumble is, nor is there any identifiable storyline. But if this is the one thing you are still scratching your head at then you probably missed her date with sausages (yes, you heard right). In between the on-stage naked transitions and surreal, pantomime-esque stunts reliant upon shock-value lies a true virtuoso whose grasp of her audience is a hallmark of a thoroughly entertaining, completely unapologetic spectacle. Her makeup smeared, and her wig cast asunder, Grumble takes her leave and bids farewell to the sea of flabbergasted faces, now sporting a placard with the words “It doesn’t have to be the end”. Here’s hoping we haven’t seen the last of her.  

Reviews by Stuart Mckenzie

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The Blurb

Grotesque and gorgeous surreal showgirl and world-famous performer Betty Grumble arrives in Edinburgh with the underground show of the festival. Experience the queen of the obscene in an odyssey of deep disco dissent. Witness her rage, her desire and her internal organs in a shamanic striptease that is 'part theatre, part comedy, part dance, part sordid burlesque and a whole lot of social commentary' ***** ( Are you Betty to Grumble? Winner: Underbelly Award 2016. Commendation for Best Cabaret, Adelaide Fringe 2016. 'Empowering... fierce, original and fresh' (