In a first floor room with open windows surrounded by light green window panes, we see Maddie Godfrey stretching on the floor ahead of our seats. She has headphones on and seems so calm, happy, and comfortable.
If My Body Was A Poem is a powerful performance that leaves the audience absolutely silent throughout most of the 45 minutes. Maddie holds our attention, shifting between dance and storytelling, casting a shadow that envelops a poem; she gifts beautiful broiling stanzas that wrap around our minds.
In this room, there is a sense of welcoming beyond the norm. Maddie’s expressions are so natural, so unassuming, that you could forget she’s performing. It’s as though we’re here with a close friend.
Maddie offers us glimpses of her childhood while she talks about gender binaries, social constructs, and feminism. We come to understand the observations that have informed her awareness of these issues.
Words tumble into one another, they hang still for moments, they drift through the room with hypnotic resonance. And, it feels as though we’re involved in a dialogue; her still moments talking with our own.
When Maddie speaks of rape culture, she draws a powerful image of what is so often left unmentioned. What is so often pushed away from view, cast aside with labels of blame and shame.
We feel the pull of compelling metaphors as we learn how Maddie sees all of this. The concept of taking up space, the notion of strength in a society that positions women as vulnerable and somehow at fault for deprivations enacted by others, the outward celebration of the fact that her “body is a life force, not a patriarchal construction”; all of these things hold us close.
This performance, while addressing confronting issues, leaves audience members feeling fulfilled, strong, respected and heard. Such a thing is no small achievement. All consuming, this solo show is a particularly brilliant experience.
Star rating systems are, frankly, reductive. But, if I was to be working within one, I’d give this show 4.5.
If My Body Was A Poem will be performed for the last time as part of Fringe World 2017 on January 26.