Boyle and Waters in Leotard (debase productions) – Theatre Review

Anybody who has persevered through sweaty struggle to pull on a leotard will be immediately in awe of the premise at the core of debase productions’ Boyle and Waters in Leotard. It sees performer/creators Bridget Boyle and Neridah Waters sharing the stories behind vintage leotards of all shapes and sizes. From their entry to the stage, clad in their theatre nudes, the talented duo proceed to put on a range of sequinned, bedazzled, feathered garments and the result is simply sensational.

The homage to the humble leotard, presented in an encore season by Metro Arts, serves not only as a tribute to the skin-tight one-piece garment, but the truth that lies underneath its sometimes absurd layers of over-the-top adornment. And it’s a truth that is apparent in the range of different women presented as part of the ensuing vignettes.

Punctuating scenes are interviews with women of all ages sharing stories of what leotards have meant to them. They give insights into the insecurities and joys that the garment can bring, which balances nicely with the frivolity of colour and movement on stage.

This is a highly physical show with, under Lucas Stibbard’s direction – an energy that never wanes. The manner with which both performers change their body language, movement and voice ensures that their characterisations are distinct as they jump between roles. Both show incredible versatility through their often nuanced depictions. That includes Waters’ straight-faced restraint as a daughter in musical accompaniment with her mother’s overtly flirtatious birthday party performance of Ginuwine’s “Pony”. Waters, in particular, is a pocket-rocket of energy.

The frequent ridiculousness extends to a range of theatrical styles. With nostalgic mentions, like the performances at Expo 88, there are many moments in which to rejoice in this joyous, razzle dazzle celebration of performance, body positivity and glitter. And while the stories that accompany the leotards bring with them an undeniable hilarity, there is also an essential honesty and, ultimately, an uplifting message that elevates the experience.

Boyle and Waters in Leotard is showing at Metro Arts until 18th December, 2021.

Meredith Walker
For more of Meredith Walker’s theatre reviews, check out 
Blue Curtains Brisbane.

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