Julia Croft explores the power of language through play and karaoke in Power Ballad. The audience are assaulted with words and sounds – capturing what it means to have control, be a woman and use language to your advantage.
Croft begins the performance with what can only be described as ‘microphone acrobatics’, manipulating the microphone around her body without using her hands. This simple but highly effective movement sequence is a stark reminder to the power of body language, and its importance in communication. Her bare breasts are a strong representation of the female body, and the brutal reality of when a woman’s body is all that she has left.
Croft creates quick snappy play throughout Power Ballad, creating a unique soundscape of noises and captured words. The artist uses few words herself – making the chosen few all the more powerful (‘language’, ‘feminism’, ‘theatre’). One of the most engaging elements of this piece was Croft’s use of a loop pedal and voice modifier. The decision to manipulate her voice to different tones and pitches (essentially, to disguise it) was an interesting one and so effective that – when she did choose to speak in her own voice – I actually didn’t find those sections quite as powerful.
The performance is self-described as ‘part karaoke party’. Croft chooses two power ballads for the audience to sing along with, but unfortunately creates a such strong fourth wall at the beginning of Power Ballad that – when she suddenly points the microphone at the audience – we are left a bit stunned and unsure as to the task. It eventually catches on though, and there is a powerful (and enjoyable) feeling about singing along to Annie Lennox’s lyrics with the rest of the crowd.
Power Ballad is a beautiful piece about facts and feelings, taking back control of our language and rebelling against the patriarchal amplification. Julia Croft has created a thought-provoking and challenging performance around how much power we place in words, instead of feelings.