Betty Grumble is a thing hard to describe. In the most beautiful sense of the term, this character is an abomination, and an insult to all that is “right” and “proper” with the world. Dirty, sexual and perverse, she grabs you by your respective genitalia and pulls you into the most spectacular car crash of a show you are ever likely to witness. But if we steer away from this performances visual onslaught, we find another side to Betty Grumble: a figure head for all things radical, for change, for empathy, but above all else, as a defiant protest through art.
Grumble is the invention of Emma Maye Gibson, whose artistry and craft is beyond reproach and leaves many of her contemporaries for dead. Her ever strengthening performance style and increasing popularity make Betty Grumble white hot. Gibson is on a rapid ascension to even bigger things. Here, in Betty Grumble: Sex Clown Saves The World she steps out from behind burlesque, into the world of cabaret, multiple times and in rapid succession. Though these two worlds do share a symbiotic relationship, rarely do we see both co-existing in such a magnificent way. For those who have followed the work of Betty Grumble over the past few years, in this performance we are given the opportunity to plunge deeper into her chaos and witness talent even greater than one would dare imagine.
Inspiration seems to have been taken from Olivia Newton Johns video clip for Let’s Get Physical- if it had been filmed after the entire cast and production team had taken a shit load of hallucinogenics. It’s maximalist, with more surprises pulled from some pretty questionable places than you can poke a brown stick at. This messy playful energy however does not detract from how loaded each scene in this show is. The stakes are undeniably high surrounding the topics that are explored. Aside from the political, the body is shown in absolute honesty, employed as a beautiful display of sex positivity and celebration of the individual, audience participation fast becomes as integral to this performance’s greatness.
In the here and now it is most important, that for a country that sees it fit to engage in vicious, hurtful and public debate, we have unapologetic and proud individuals out continuing to fight the good fight. A fine piece of cabaret completely out of this world, seeing Betty Grumble perform just once in your life is quite possibly enough to allow you to die happy. Not many achieve this elusive thing, in which art brings about change, but Gibson gives us a sense that this Sex Clown may just save the world yet.