Wildside Review: Daughter Product depicts female oppression in the dystopian, deviant “The Gentle Art of Punishment”

Special Festival Coverage

(Photo: Jules Bédard)

After first premiering in Montreal in 2017 at the ZH Festival, local feminist/queer performance collective Daughter Product‘s The Gentle Art of Punishment returns to materialize at the Wildside in all its deviance and artistry.

Inspired by a chapter of the same name in French philosopher Michel Foucault’s 1975 book Discipline and Punish, the theatrical piece frames the narratives of three women in their explorations and struggles with sexuality, image, and identity within the confines of oppressive structures and systems.

The interdisciplinary creation is the devised work of performers Lucy Fandel, Natalie Liconti, and Emily Sirota in collaboration with Joe Browne (sound design) and Darah Miah (lighting), who here converge to depict a disturbing, dystopic world in which normative societal influences and controls lead women to the obsessive pursuit of feminine ideals. Self-punishment and discipline are presented as acts of care and pleasure – a healing from childhood trauma. Abstracted dance/movement and descriptive text mate to spawn powerful imagery and peculiar vignettes on the repercussions of violence, abuse, and neglect.

Despite what we perceive as missing a fleshing out of the complex themes and an even energy among individual performances, The Gentle Art of Punishment is altogether an interesting, intelligent interpretation of Foucauldian and queer theories. The show takes a bit of warming up, but it eventually finds some footing (Liconti’s Drew Barrymore TV segment is a high point) to unveil these characters’ intricate, fractured relationships with friends, mothers, lovers, other women, and themselves. It’s certainly a thought-provoking conception – quite humorous and enjoyable, actually, in its moments of levity – but, for us, ultimately lacking in the guttural.

Regardless, Daughter Product remains a valuable player in the contemporary movement in Montreal and its experimental, rebellious brainchild is quintessentially Wildside.

The 2019 Wildside Festival presents Daughter Product’s The Gentle Art of Punishment

Performances: Jan. 11 at 7pm, Jan. 12 at 3pm, Jan. 13 at 9pm, Jan. 19 at 7pm & Jan. 20 at 7pm.
Duration: 55 minutes
Venue: Centaur Theatre | 453 St Francois Xavier St.
Admission: $16 Adults | $13 Students/Seniors/Under 30s
Box Office: 514-288-3161 | www.centaurtheatre.com/wildside-festival

For more 2019 Wildside Festival reviews, head over to www.montrealtheatrehub.com/wildside-festival-2019/

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