I did not know what to expect from the UNTITLED FEMINIST SHOW but I knew that I was due to see something by Young Jean Lee. I was more than pleasantly surprised by the wildly entertaining performance.
The show started with six nude performers – of varying body-types – walking down the steps of the Baryshnikov Arts Center orchestra stairs in a very serious and modern dance-like nature. With the audience silenced by this, the performance continues from modern dance to a ballet narrative that involves an evil villain, a sidekick, and innocent dancers. Finally, when the villain is slain (who thrashes about with dramatic developés before dying), it becomes clear to the audience that this is not a performance that needs to be looked at with a serious lens. This is not a dry or didactic look at feminism; rather, it is a new presentation to be enjoyed and embraced.
From then on, the audience becomes boisterous, laughing at the mockery of performative and social norms being analyzed on stage. The blending of cabaret, burlesque, dance, and theater is smooth and genuine, making for an extremely unique show. The awareness of nudity gradually fades away exposing the audience directly to the art form. Not to make a direct comparison but UFS feels like Julie Atlas Muz’s conservative yet rebellious little sister’s show. It was smart and extremely well done without being alienating or over the top.
My favorite part occurred when one of the performers sang a nonsensical solo off key for five minutes – pretending to be belting out some show-stopping song without any awareness to her lack of talent. Hilarious. Also of note were the abstract projections above the dancers, which served to set the mood and I thought were to resemble female organs.
All in all, I enjoyed the work and the exciting ride that Young Jean Lee takes the audience on.