Theatre review: Baby Face, Tron Theatre, Glasgow

Katy Dye's performance is physical and quite disturbing
Katy Dye's performance is physical and quite disturbing
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IN THE publicity for her show, Katy Dye tells it straight. Paedophilia is not OK, she says; yet fetishised images of women as prepubescent girls are. Baby Face is an extraordinary physical performance – dance shading into solo stand-up provocation – in which Dye explores and challenges her own relationship with a culture in which, so far as the male gaze is concerned, female sexual attraction is often bound up with babyish or child-like mannerisms and looks.

Baby Face, Tron Theatre, Glasgow ****

At one point Dye picks on a hapless male member of the audience, and sings him the Marilyn Monroe classic I Wanna Be Loved By You first in the familiar babyish voice, and then in a mature woman’s voice; one represents a cultural norm, the other an adult female sexuality that is seen, in our society, as much more threatening and dangerous.

There’s no doubt that Baby Face is a thoroughly disturbing show; already seen to widespread acclaim on last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, it conducts a dialogue with patriarchal attitudes that cuts very close to home, and sometimes seems almost too driven by the male perspectives Dye, like all of us, has had to internalise.

Given a powerful soundtrack by Zac Scott, though – ranging from disruptive manipulated sound to infantilising forms of K-Pop – Dye’s 50-minute show achieves a true disruptive intensity; and the fact that her only prop is a baby’s white high-chair, leaned on, vamped over, and thrown ruthlessly around the stage, only serves to emphasise her point that even babies – in their primal roar of need and survival – are not really the powerless, compliant creatures that male fantasy so often seems to demand.

JOYCE MCMILLAN

Until 9 February