Power Ballad @ Tron Theatre, Glasgow
This performance piece from artists Julia Croft and Nisha Madhan is punchy and thought-provoking
“They’re just… words.”
How often do we hear this as an excuse for the vitriol thrown at others, most commonly from behind the anonymous safety blanket of the internet? Julia Croft and Nisha Madhan’s Power Ballad is a commanding study of language and how it’s used to attack, belittle or define.
This live art piece swings between physical performance – a microphone writhing over Croft’s bare torso, or swinging phallically between her legs – and a delve into what we think of as theatre, intersectional feminism, and patriarchy.
This performance has few bells and whistles in its staging, and it doesn’t need them. Croft stands alone with her microphone and her voice-changer, allowing her to flip her vocal tone into a booming baritone or a screeching soprano. At times, the rage or incredulity at the words leveled towards women are enhanced by the artificial vocal tones.
Yet while it would be so easy for this 50-minute performance to be weighed down with the severity of the topic, Croft and Madhan manage to deliver the punchiness of the message through moments of real humour. Shouts of “theatre” and “patriarchy” are interspersed with karaoke: microphone turned to the audience, lyrics emblazoned on the wall as we are encouraged to sing along, but also to examine the labels so often given to women.
We sing along with Annie Lennox’s No More I Love You’s and the lyrics feel like a glimmer of hope that things might just be progressing: “Changes are shifting outside the words”.