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The Crack Magazine

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Barely Visible at Dance City

Like any theatre buff, I’m a sucker for a huge production with a cast that fills the entire stage and an excessive set that is just as busy. However, I must admit that nothing impresses me more than a performer that can command space and silence in a paired back, solo show. This is exactly what Rowena Gander - Liverpudlian performer, choreographer and dance academic - achieves in Barely Visible.

The show explores the issues faced by lesbians through monologue, dance, sound, comedy and a pole, from how homosexuality has been spoken about by government figures like Margaret Thatcher, to the sexualisation of lesbianism and its assimilation into the voyeuristic fantasies of straight men, to the invasive questions many lesbians face, to how pop culture like Katy Perry’s ‘I Kissed a Girl’ reduces it to mere, coquettish experimentation. Through her movement, Gander takes us on an intimate journey where we viscerally experience the impact that such an invasive society has on queer women. She struggles to conquer this, but her strength allows her to eventually drown out the many voices circling her, and it is an incredibly empowering ending.

Smeared in dirt to embody the persona of the ‘dirty lesbian’ that society has constructed, Gander does not shy away from the rawness of her lived experience. However, she also refuses to stifle her strength and her commandment of it, demonstrated beautifully through the incredible pole choreography. Contrasted with moments of softness and grace, Barely Visible presents a lesbian identity that refuses to be boxed, that is written by the woman herself and not by the stereotypes that attempt to pervade her, and it was a pleasure to experience this.

Leanna Thomson