What to make of Monster Body? While there are some interesting (though not unique) ideas explored in this performance piece, they’re often not carried to fruition, which leaves this show fragmented and lack lustre. On occasion, when it does hit the mark, it’s everything you wished the show could be.
Through movement, shape and sound, Monster Body traverses the shadier aspects of the female form subverting how it’s both portrayed and valued in society and popular culture. It’s a fascinating topic with endless potential but, unfortunately, this theme remains insulated within the intellect for most of Monster Body.
On one level, choreographer and performer, is audacious in delivering this provocative piece. She spends almost the entirety of the performance naked and in one segment urinates on stage to the confectionary sounds of Brittney Spears and then rolls in her excrement. But while the latter is shocking and challenging to watch, it doesn’t translate to anything other than a curious and jarring juxtaposition to a pop song. Are we supposed to make a correlation with the base element of sexploitation in pop music here? If so, it wasn’t clear to me. In fact, this segment of the show just came off as trying to shock the audience for shock value alone, which never succeeds in unraveling themes to any depth.
There are a couple of times during the show, though, where Eke succeeds in translating this works beyond its concept into the sensory realms. In the segment where six female performers dance naked to Beyonce’s (supposedly) empowering song lyrics with black hoods over their faces is bang on. There are clear cultural references evident in this routine, which herald the notion that women, far from being empowered, are in fact incarcerated, exploited and emotionally tortured by the pervasive messages existing in popular culture today.
The final sequence of Monster Body is brilliant. It begins quite simply with Eke sitting in front of a mirror applying makeup. What commences as an application of lipstick ends in a facial mask of pink body paint. The lights drop and Eke dances fervently to up tempo music as the now fluorescent and streaked mask takes on a grotesque and monstrous appearance. It’s a powerful statement about the monster society creates when we extricate the female form from its entirety and exploit it for its sexual nature alone.