STUN Studio, Z-Arts, Manchester; Friday 26th October, 2018
Tantalising terracotta …., sandstone …., farm fresh eggs ……, brown sugar ….., a glass of Baileys …..; the Beige B!tch is an extraordinary womxn: a queen of modern multimedia, an internet superstar who appears to be fixated not just on looks and style and feelings and all that usual YouTube and Facebook sh!t, very specifically this womxn seems to be completely obsessed with conquering the infinte continuum between white and brown.
The Beige B!tch doesn’t seem to have a name, even her stage manager calls her B!tch, reminding her at regular intervals to get on with the show. The visual spectacle that she presents is astonishing – strutting and swaggering onto stage in a crotch-less and arse-less, two-piece latex sari. It’s clear she’s definitely out there, she’s from some abstract corner of the internet that you’ve never been to, but over there she’s probably got millions hanging on her every Instagram post.
The stifling and intimidating air of hyper-trendiness is imposed even before the performance begins. As the audience take their seats, the Beige B!tch’s impossibly glamorous sidekick wanders around like a lost puppy before approaching random innocents to deliver diabolically profound lines of philosophy; telling everyone that, in this moment, this is the most freedom that her hair has ever known.
As a show, Beige B!tch is a mix of on-stage performance and commentary by the womxn herself and some very impressive video clips from what is presumably her talk show – the one where she finally made it when she crossed over from internet legend to mainstream superstar.
In theatrical terms, the video clips are superbly crafted: a Loose-Womxn-style exposè on that time that some other womxn literally licked her arm in order to gorge on the beautiful beigeness; some random caller from Egypt banging on about how the Pyramids are but a mere grain of desert sand compared to her Royal B!tchness’ magnificent beigeness; and disturbingly sinister footage from her triumphant victory at The Cultural Ambiguity Award.
Is the Beige B!tch some sort of Oprah-Winfrey-like mainstream media goddess? Or one of these million-plus social media influencers who’s only a legend on her own iPhone? Or are those concepts now one and the same?
As a theatrical performance, Beige B!tch seems to carry some kind of profound meaning but it’s not quite clear what that is. The womxn herself issues a warning about how beigeness is spreading like an incurable disease, maybe it’s about losing racial and ethnic identity in an internet world where neither of those identity dimensions mean anything any more.
Beige B!tch is a stunning work of audio and visual presentation, but the substance behind it is very unclear – maybe that, in a nutshell, is what the Beige B!tch herself represents?
|Visual pleasure||The stage is set up as some sort of gym, but one of those stereotypical muscle-beach type gyms where the emphasis is on being seen to be seen, rather than actually working out. A treadmill, some dumbells, sand, palm trees, coconuts – all of it in various shades of beige of course. For some strange reason the visual appearance is slightly disturbing, as if it is some sort of crime scene. The videos projected onto the back wall probably make up half of the show and are outstanding. And there’s no denying the visual triumph that is the womxn herself, simultaneously stunning and shocking in so many ways.||5|
|Auditory pleasure||A key factor in the quality of the video clips is the sound, as good as anything professional that you’ll see and hear on TV. The on-stage performance was perfectly accompanied by continual backing music which really helped to create the live talk show / daytime TV feel whilst also carrying a trendy vibe appropriate to the Beige B!tch’s persona.||5|
|Architecture & Theme||It’s not obvious what this show is trying to get across, there’s clearly some sort of profound message about identity, specifically race perhaps. But the required conclusion never comes, which might be deliberate but as a theatrical experience it does leave a slight sense of unfulfillment and possibly even confusion.||3|
|Artistic delivery||Nima Séne delivers an excellent performance, coming across as a proper diva who’s full of herself. Particularly striking is the difference between her on-stage / real self working out in order to look good and the on-screen perfected image with impeccably tidy make-up etc. Again there is a sense of unfulfillment as we don’t get to see which is the real Beige B!tch.||4|
|Overall impact||This is a beautifully presented show, an hour of first-class visual and auditory excellence. The meaning behind it is bafflingly unclear, perhaps most precisely articulated by the fact that the audience is left unclear whether we’re meant to like the Beige B!tch or not, is she someone to be celebrated or someone to be despised? Is she a huge success or is she a victim? This is a great show but it’s so abstract that plenty are likely to walk away with the “I just don’t get it” feeling.||4|
|0||Detrimental – This aspect of the performance was so bad that it made the overall experience worse|
|1||Weak – This aspect of the performance was poor|
|2||Adequate – This aspect of the performance was perfectly acceptable, though nothing special|
|3||Good – This aspect of the performance was above average, it pleased in some way|
|4||Excellent – This aspect of the performance was much better than normal, it was impressive|
|5||Awe-inspiring – This aspect of the performance was exceptional, new boundaries were pushed.|