GRUMBLE: Sex Clown Saves The World is a riotous and boundary-breaking performance that addresses an enormous amount of issues in a comparatively tiny time slot. Betty Grumble, the alter-ego of esteemed performer Emma Maye Gibson, possesses the ability to make audiences laugh until they cry and cry until they laugh (unless they're slightly more conservative, in which case they'll ogle about the room uncomfortably looking for solace in other confused and/or disgusted faces).
Grumble doesn't just critique existing societal institutions: half-naked and covered in sweat and glitter, she tears them down and stamps on them with her eight-inch stilettos. This feminist cabaret is drenched in satire as heavy as Grumble's iconic drag-inspired stage makeup, highlighting the absurdity of the world we live in through movement and the body. Grumble screams, sings, dances, writhes, sweats, shits and bleeds her way throughout the show (no, it’s not real shit and blood in case you’re wondering), subverting traditional ideas of femininity while simultaneously celebrating them (using period blood as war paint, as one example).
The show masterfully blends elements of cynical realism and absurd comedy with a standout scene featuring Grumble running on the spot to a voice recording of a man reciting a monologue every woman has heard before — initially attempting to hit on her and having his advances rejected, he begins to call her a slut and threatening violence. Grumble frantically runs faster and faster before breaking into an aerobics-style routine instructing viewers to "elbow, elbow, scratch, scratch!" in response to the offender, fittingly dressed in a leotard emblazoned with the words “Read the Vibe”.
Sex Clown Saves The World is an multi-dimensional, beautiful mess of queerdom, nature, feminism, politics, sex-positivity and a little bit of disco. The character of Betty Grumble is completely unique, completely nuts, and completely ingenious, and while she may not be able to singlehandedly save the world, here's hoping this show begins the process for audiences who see it.
Betty Grumble will perform at Studio 7 in The Garden of Unearthly Delights until March 19. Purchase tickets through FringeTix.
Header image via Adelaide Fringe