It’s that time of the month, The Melbourne Fringe Festival is happening and I’m going to see ‘a water ballet about periods’. Spoiler: ‘Crimson Tide’ is so much more. It’s a celebration of the menstrual cycle; a riotous, stigma-smashing call to arms, and a no-strings-attached bloody good time.
Performed by The Clams, Melbourne’s own self-proclaimed ‘least professional water ballet squad,’ ‘Crimson Tide’ is hosted at an unusual festival building, a real period piece, the City Baths. The warm red lighting, sultry temperature and smooth jazz transform the venue from public pool to speak easy.
The Clams have been surfing the crimson wave of success and the place is packed, luckily there’s standing room up the back so cramped seating isn’t a problem. The audience is mostly women, though there are healthy smattering of men, and the vibe is strong. People are talking excited about what we can expect. Are they going to be allowed to dye the pool?
The performance begins with the MC recounting the story of her first period. I won’t spoil it for you but the story alone is worth the ticket price. The audience were gasping with laughter.
The water ballet itself is high-energy and visually impressive. Joan Jett is blasted at high volume as the swimmers (dancers?) splash and scream their way through an artistic representation of the menstrual cycle. At no point do they dye the pool red, but there are giant tampons, artistically used red fabric and in true water ballet style people glitter in the water.
The whole performance runs for about 40 minutes, they don’t pad it out, but this works well. It keeps the show pacey and interesting.
While I don’t like to accuse the cast of feminist witch-magic I did get my period during the show, so you be the judge…
‘Crimson Tide’ is fun and feminist. It’s entertainment that champions equality and it is well worthy of a standing ovulation.