Jordan Beth Vincent | Sydney Morning Herald | Sunday 4th October 2015

Working woman: No Punchline explores the pressures of gender norms and expectations.

Working woman: No Punchline explores the pressures of gender norms and expectations. Photo: Supplied

Arts House, Meat Market, until October 4
Reviewed by Jordan Beth Vincent

The relationship between strength and femininity is the theme in No Punchline, from circus director Sara Pheasant. Pheasant explores the pressures of gender norms and expectations, which add complexity to the relationship. There are many touchstones here: elite female boxers, sideshow ladies of last century in corsets, beauty expectations and even a commentary on the demands of working mothers. Pheasant and her collaborators have really thought through the myriad complexities of these topics and try to illustrate the connections between everyday moments of bravery and the ritual of preparing for a fight. The use of circus performance as a language works well, with a meditative rhythm to performers climbing and swinging on ropes providing a counterpoint to the range of punches thrown by champion boxer Bianca Elmir​.Throughout the performance, the notion of “women’s work” is subverted and challenged with some very unexpected results. A live sound composition by Teresa Blake combines cello with less traditional instruments, as powertools and electric toothbrushes are used as much for their audio potential as for their commentary on women and power.

IMAGE CREDIT: via Sydney Morning Herald Website, Photo by Owen Spear