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Notorious Strumpet & Dangerous Girl @ Meat Market

★★★★★

Written and performed by self-described queer-carnie Jess Love, this one-woman show is an auto-biographical study mixing Love’s circus prowess (ex-Circus Oz and Le Soiree) with her theatrical chops and it’s a one-two power punch combo.
 
The show mulls over the dichotomy of genetics and self determination. It turns out that Love, who was raised in a straighty-one eighty household but grew up more than partial to a drink, was a descendant of another black sheep. When Love’s uncle, a librarian and genealogist, mapped the family tree Love discovered a kindred spirit in her great, great, great, great grandmother Julia Mullins, who was transported to Tasmania as a convict. Love’s discovery of her infamous relative (Mullins was arrested in Australia 23 times, 22 times for being drunk and disorderly) coincided with a personal rock-bottom, and shed some light on her conduct.
 
The show kicks off with one of Love’s piss-funny signature routines. As a jaded hula-hooper, Love rocks some killer hula-hoop tricks, while picking her teeth and retrieving her costume from her crack. It also involves Love getting all of her kit off, but there’s nothing vulnerable about the display.   
 
Thereafter, we see footage of one of Tasmania’s leading historians discussing Mullin’s life as a “strumpet and dangerous woman” (the surgeon on the ship in which she was transported pegged her thus). We play booze bingo (find three of the genes associated with alcoholism in a row to win a prize) and pseudo attend an AA meeting (“no one actually says, “hi, my name’s ‘x’ and I’m an alcoholic, but the 12 steps are projected on the rear wall and Love recites her experience with booze).
 
If you’ve ever made a drunken dick out of yourself the show will make you wince in recognition. Love’s portrayal of what it’s like to be pissed is bang on. The sucker punch comes when she finally loses her shit and weeps naked. This time, Love is exposed and defenceless – literally and metaphorically. Expect laughter, discomfort and tears. 
 
BY MEG CRAWFORD