Peta Lily: Chastity Belt, Lion & Unicorn Theatre - Review

Going to a Peta Lily show isn't like other. Whether she knows you or not, she'll make a point of saying hello to everyone. This isn't an 'audience'. This is 'friends and family' – some who were beforehand, some who will be by the end.

With a title like Chastity Belt, you would be wondering if sex and relationships have a place in any part of Lily's show. And you would be right. I don't think it would be nof me to say Lily isn't a woman in her 20s anymore. Her age though is something that's talked about at great detail. Not the specificity of her exact age, but the way 'mature' women become 'invisible' after a certain age. How society/media seldom treats them as undesirable, as opposed to women in their 20s. Yes, women shouldn't be seen as sex objects, but why is it that in some arenas a woman in her 40s and 50s are not seen as people who are interested love, sex, relationships?

After a preamble regarding religion and the inherent patriarchy in some structures, Lily's 'conversation' turned to Diana/Artemis – one of the popular goddesses from the Greco-Roman pantheon: capable, determined, but in some ways complicated. Sticking with Greek culture, Aristophanes' Lysistrata – the classic tale of a 'sex strike was also referenced. It's often seen as one of the first pieces of literature that shows the untapped power that women en masse have. But Lily did offer an alternative viewpoint that's been doing the rounds – that as a 'comedy' the play was originally written to show how 'absurd' it was for women to think they cab dabble in. Talk about a descrepancy between modern versurs traditional interpretations!

Outside European folklore, the Hindu pantheon was also referenced, especially Kali who knew no equal in terms of her battle prowess. In some ancient myths, women were portrayed just as capable, if not more so than their male counterparts, but didn't 'own' their sexual selves in the process. Not quite the Madonna/whore dichotomy, but still a partisan view of women in general.

In between the cultural odyssey and the anecdotes, Lily kept the audience happy with her visual gags and her covers of bluesy songs which simultaneously captured the mood at any given time, as well as lending the evening with a cabaret-esque vibe.

The show worked best  in my opinion when the subject is Lily herself and how she personally related to the topics at hand. There's something about a funny, smart woman like herself being so candid on such matters that gives the serious message behind her show such gravitas and pathos.

© Michael Davis 2016

Peta Lily's Chastity Belt ran at The Lion & Unicorn Theatre on 5-7 October 2016.


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