Alice has been supported using public funding by the National
Lottery through Arts Council England - www.artscouncil.org.uk
Paul T. Davies, BritishTheatre.Com
Mercury Theatre 30.06.22
Burton Taylor Studio 29.06.22
East London 25.04.19
Anna Hur, SapphicNation.Com
Performance poet, burlesque performer, aerial artist and downright all-around thought provoker of all things gender fluid, Alice d’Lumiere’s new show does what it says in the title. Finding your voice and fitting into society is central to the show’s playful experience of walking on both sides of the gender divide, observing life as both male and female, experiencing people’s reactions. From the restrictions of being a sensible businesswoman squeezed into a man spreading train, sensible shoes and professional dress, to a glorious finale atop a Christmas tree, layers are peeled off, changed, adopted, exploring the many aspects of femininity.
The fourth wall is removed, a variety of voices lead us though Alice’s many experiences, the poetry funny and on point, the rhythm of the text on the commuter train echoing Night Mail, Auden’s classic poem. Shimmering blue dress gives way to burlesque sensuality, director and teacher Angelica Bangs placing Alice confidently on an aerial hoop, a skill learnt especially for this show. It’s impressive and, yes, fluid, and the show really starts to fly, finding a confident sashay into differing social situations, halted only by the retelling of a nasty drunk man groping Alice in a pub. Many moments require us to pause and think about the female experience.
Composer Tina Gooding provides a score that perfectly chimes with the material, although the recorded voice-overs were a little quiet. This didn’t distract too much, however, from a show that, for me, had two main strengths. The first is the voice itself. Alice and her male counterpart, Darren Gooding, explore many voices in the search for her own, there’s a terrific Eddie Izzard riff that also shows great impressionist skills too! Alice’s voice is gentle, polite, but is no less powerful, proving that a voice doesn’t need to rage to have a great impact. The second point is kindness. It’s a show created with care and compassion, and we feel welcomed into it, the house lights always at half so Alice can speak to us directly, so much so that we fit in from the moment the play starts. Her next work will feature opera. I can’t wait!
Alice d'Lumiere is just another commuter on the train through life; sensible shoes, a practical dress, and a mask, if guidelines require it. But a free-standing hoop, a flash of electric blue satin and voluminous petticoats floating in the wings like luminous jellyfish suggest this poetry-performance-exploration of life’s simple turns may have a more flamboyant, expressive mode waiting in the wings.
As the stiff expression of professional, respectable femininity starts to slide into the performer’s exuberant world of red lipstick and tights, words take on a wilder, looser tone. As the little black dress gives way to hoop-friendly tights, the poetry switches up, becomes more (gender) fluid and the show finds its wings. Deliciously brusque speech forays into broad humour and bawdy burlesque punctuate the physical world of shimmies and spins.
Composer Tina Gooding and Choreographer Angelica Bangs round out the sound and provide suitable support at key moments. Here and there, a moment on a stage or a train brings out the voice of Darren Gooding, who rounds up this one-person show into a satisfyingly complete gender identity exploration. At once a celebration of uniqueness and fitting in, of passing and standing out and proud, this show celebrates a world of intersecting identities and individuals that hold each other kindly, with care and compassion. From committee meetings to Christmas trees, crowded commutes to triumphs of costume construction, there is a lot of subject matter to be addressed, and lots of dressing for the occasion.
Playful, kind, occasionally bawdy, but always considerate, Speaking out and fitting In! is a one-person show that fluidly moves through gender and identity, exploring (and occasionally exploding) preconceptions. Refusing to be put in a box, yet speaking outspokenly from an exquisitely expensive museum cabinet, Alice d’Lumiere wears their contradictions and complexity with verve and style.
Alice d’Lumiere performs at Norwich Arts Centre on May 15th... You may be wondering if you should attend her show. Having had the opportunity to watch her live on stage at her past performance in Poplar Union in April, I have to say; yes.
Set in a space where Alice gets to interact with the audience, viewers witness her exploration of feminine impulses, gravitating towards fitting in and speaking out occasionally on stage. She introduced us into her world of womanhood and has an articulate way of expressing exactly how that experience in life is for her.
While privilege is mentioned and openly discussed, it is her bravery in being authentic that leaves one inspired to emulate her example.
“Surprises abound and she entertains with her wry humour; showing us all what it is to be a woman. Burlesque, cabaret, beautiful poetry, and childhood dreams coming true is what you can expect.
Jeremy Dennis, DailyInfo.co.uk