Strong Female Character
Brisbane Powerhouse & Rowena Hutson
Brisbane Powerhouse Graffiti Room
March 15 – 20 2016
Reviewed by Xanthe Coward
Welcome to the party, pal!
Businessman: You want to know the secret to surviving air travel? After you get where you’re going, take off your shoes and your socks then walk around on the rug bare foot and make fists with your toes.
John McClane: Fists with your toes?
Businessman: I know, it sounds crazy. Trust me, I’ve been doing it for nine years. Yes sir, better than a shower and a hot cup of coffee.
John McClane: Okay. It’s okay, I’m a cop. Trust me, I’ve been doing this for eleven years.
5 Die Hard films in 5 minutes?! Crazy! Yes! So crazy it works! There is a whole lot of fake blood and gun shots and shouting but before that there is Rowena Hutson already seated on the teeny tiny Graffiti Room stage, bopping and singing along to our favourite empowered eighties pop chick tracks and grinning at us as we take our seats. We settle and raise our glasses – it’s the good Rockbare shiraz (so nice to bring our wine into the theatre in a glass but it could just as easily be bubbles in a plastic party cup) – the vibe is fun and frivolous and…mysterious. The Die Hard homage is ridiculous, hilarious, and puts us in the palm of Hutson’s hand. The story that follows softens us, allowing us to gently unfold and open up no matter what our day or week or month or year has been like, and prompts us to remember, with something like nostalgia or horror, similar events in our own teen lives.
Hutson wanted to be born a boy. Until the age of six she was actually totally convinced she had been born a boy…with girl bits. At fourteen she experienced a sexual encounter that made her realise it was time to take ownership of her lady parts and all that society says comes with them.
With TOMBOY tattooed across her forehead (IT’S A METAPHOR), Hutson takes us with her on a journey through her fascinating life, as a person with a serious identity crisis. Until now.
The show is fast and fabulously funny. We’re involved from the outset – music and laughter unite us – and the use of a series of placards, handwritten in black pen, remind us of the lessons we’ve learned from the greatest (male) action heroes. Wolverine, Han Solo, Indiana Jones, Marty McFly, Bill Murray, and Bill and Ted (!) all get a look in. She asks if there is anyone else worth mentioning and I think of Daniel Craig as James Bond and Michael Douglas in Jewel of the Nile…okay, whatever, we watched it a LOT in the eighties… I don’t offer it but Bond gets a mention.
We bring Angelina Jolie to the table as the epitome of the strong female character.
It’s one thing for a well-built male action star who looks like he could throw guys around to do so; it’s quite another when they ask me to believe that Angelina Jolie can do it.
– Jack, YouTube
Hey Jack? Fuck off. WE BELIEVE IT. We realise that so many of the qualities we admire in the strongest female (and male) characters are those we believe we don’t possess ourselves, and fail to acknowledge when we do recognise them fleetingly, in ourselves or our closest female (and male) friends…
Hutson is strongly feminist in the most delightful, tender way. She’s tough and vulnerable and easily relatable: a feminist and a scoundrel. Her smile is infectious and we feel like we know her, like we used to hang out with her. She sings and dances, and touts a toy gun and swears like a trooper while remaining eloquent, completely charming, challenging the status quo, demanding Hollywood front up and everyone shape up. Hutson is particularly engaging during the placard/dance numbers and each time she relaxes into the storytelling to let the show flow, delivering the material with genuine confidence.
If it takes a village – and it does – Hutson is the funky, fearless chief with the passion, energy, sparkling sequins and iconic action film references to lead us. She’s cute and strong and unfuckablewith. Armed with plenty of personal anecdotes and the wisdom of hindsight, Hutson delivers an outstanding comical piece that refuses to rest on its poignancy, rising above it instead and taking us beyond it, to a place in which we can just get the job done. We need to stop overthinking it. We need to live it. Every one of us, every day. We walk away feeling uplifted, optimistic, and inspired rather than enraged, a clear measure of success in my book.
It just seems so obvious in this day and age, that women are just as human – that is to say, funny and flawed and capable of incredible feats of heroics as men.
– Rowena Hutson, The AU Review
This is life affirming, culture changing theatre that should be on the National Curriculum list. I wish we could clone Hutson and send her into every secondary school (and surf club and pub) in the country with this show. Strong Female Character must be the cheekiest, and most charming and enlightening show of Brisbane Comedy Festival.