Baby Paradise: Part One
There's always a level of trepidation upon being told that the performance you are about to see is interactive, a measure of worry at what may be asked of you and a strong curiosity. Fair warning is a good idea, but the trouble is, it doesn't tell you what sort of interaction is expected.
Baby sits on the floor of her room, surrounded by the scattered forms of Barbie Dolls, some whole, some in pieces and most of them fully naked. Each has a name and each one of her "dollies" has a story and an apparent personality. She talks about them while offering them to the audience, coaxing some interaction and riffing on what is said. Some of the dolls are pegged on a washing line strung across the space in various positions and occasionally the phone goes and Baby answers it, talking as if on a sex line.
it doesn't take too long before the pieces fall into place and it becomes clear that this is a treatise on prostitution, sex trafficking and pornography, when it clicks that the strange dance that Baby performs is in fact mimicking the positions of the hanging dolls and they themselves appear to be a tableau abstract representation of a series of women in the windows of a red light district.
In fact, performer Anna Valeska Pohl hasn't created a play, so much as she has made a live action art installation. As such, it manages to provoke thought, some discomfort and even a couple of chuckles, but unfortunately, there isn't quite enough going on, or perhaps too much reliance is being put on a Fringe-going crowd to interact, as there were stretches when it felt like the piece was simply treading water. This is surprising, especially considering that there is a second part to this play, one which is allegedly darker and more twisted.
The flyer bills the show as Feminist Barbie Doll Porno Trash Theatre, and if that's your preferred show, or you like art that pushes boundaries in this way, then there's certainly something for you here. Those seeking a standard narrative need not apply.
Reviewer: Graeme Strachan