Bey­once and the bath­tub

The Dominion Post - - Culture -

I am Tasha Fierce, writ­ten and per­formed by Rose Kirkup, Bats Theatre, Welling­ton, 8.30pm un­til to­mor­row

To cap­ture an au­di­ence’s at­ten­tion, theatre pro­duc­tions of­ten cre­ate some­thing bizarre for the open­ing of their show. But few will con­front their au­di­ence with the main char­ac­ter fully clothed ly­ing in a bath of soapy water when they en­ter the theatre.

But that is ex­actly what Rose Kirkup does with her pro­duc­tion of I am Tasha Fierce. The rea­son for the bath and her be­ing in it be­comes a lit­tle clearer to­wards the end of the play but, in be­tween, Kirkup re­gales her au­di­ence with Tasha Fierce’s life story and her ob­ses­sion with one of the most fa­mous fe­male singers of mod­ern times – Bey­once. And those who know about Bey­once will re­alise that Fierce was her al­ter ego on her third solo al­bum IAm… Tasha Fierce, so Bey­once be­comes Kirkup’s char­ac­ter Tasha Fierce’s al­ter ego.

And the sen­ti­ments be­hind two of Bey­once’s sin­gles from that al­bum, Sin­gle Ladies and Bro­kenHearted Girl play a not in­signif­i­cant part in Kirkup’s story of Fierce, a young girl grow­ing up in Up­per Hutt who gains her in­de­pen­dence by leav­ing home and mov­ing to the city of Welling­ton to get a job with Bey­once, her idol and soul­mate.

She had a friend Casey in Up­per Hutt whom she lost con­tact with, but who turns up 10 years later as Fierce’s of­fice man­ager.

The re­sult­ing re­unit­ing of these two class­mates cul­mi­nates in the heart-rend­ing cli­max of the play, but it does have a suc­cess­ful out­come.

Strug­gling to fit in and be­ing able to cope with the pres­sures of in­de­pen­dence and the in­spi­ra­tion of an out­side force, in this in­stance Bey­once, who can be taken as a role model to em­power women, are the un­der­ly­ing themes of Kirkup’s sim­ple, but very ef­fec­tive story.

While most of her sto­ry­telling is done from the con­fines of the bath, her con­fi­dent and re­laxed style is in­cred­i­bly en­gag­ing. And al­though the writ­ing is not nec­es­sar­ily deep and mean­ing­ful, it is per­sonal and real, made es­pe­cially so by Kirkup’s nat­u­ral per­for­mance style.

Her ex­cel­lent use of phras­ing, pauses, tim­ing and in­to­na­tion, along with some won­der­fully paced mo­ments, makes this a most en­dur­ing and en­ter­tain­ing pro­duc­tion to watch. – Ewen Cole­man

Welling­ton per­for­mance artist Rose Kirkup as her al­ter ego Tasha Fierce.

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