And so to the second night of the FUSE Festival in the kiln-like embrace of the Shoebox Theatre. On the first night we had improvised pop and dystopic futures; on the second we were promised synchronised swimming and a one-mermaid show. Where else can you get that in Swindon on a Saturday night?
First up Palomar Theatre presented ‘Isle of Apples’. Four muses, one artist (name redacted) and the aforementioned synchronised swimming. On dry land. The irony that we were sat only a short walk away from a fully-functioning Victorian swimming pool wasn’t lost on me.
But I shouldn’t get too hung up on the opening segment, raucous though it was. Once the four-strong female cast were stripped of their swimming caps and nose plugs what we got was a vibrant, imaginative and funny show including well-choreographed movement, surreal whimsy and strong characterisation. The true life stories of four of the models and lovers of the Victorian artist and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti dance and mingle with the mythic themes of the paintings.
The second show was ‘Fish Don’t Bleed’ written and performed by Eloina, an autobiographical piece about periods, and I don’t mean American full-stops. Eloina took to the stage wearing a belt with tampons hanging off it, like corks from a stereotypical Australians hat. Those type of periods. It’s the story of the protagonist getting her first period aged ten explored through the prism of Disney’s The Little Mermaid.
I think its fair to say that this show might not be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s blisteringly frank and goes into graphic details that some people (i.e. men) might find uncomfortable.
But if so, then more fool them. The show is witty, angry and unabashed and performed with confidence, sincerity and candour.
The FUSE concludes Sunday night at the Shoebox.