Writer: Zoë Geltman
Director: Julia Sirna-Frest
Reviewer: Adrienne Sowers
Zoë Geltman’s new solo show, Puffy Hair, is marketed as an exploration of her experiences on the receiving end of the male gaze. In the intimate upstairs space at The Tank, Geltman’s existential performance-art fueled standup act is a labyrinthine journey to a destination that is unclear, even at the conclusion of the evening.
Geltman is a charming storyteller and her energy is specific to her voice – nobody would be able to perform this script except the writer herself. Utilizing the many layers of stylishly odd costumes (and wigs) by Enver Chakartash, Geltman sheds conventions of theatricality as she brings the audience into her relationship to her own physical appearance. Using hairbrushes as microphones throughout Julia Sirna-Frest’s id-reminiscent blocking, the occasional messiness of the performance is often an intentional point.
That said, it is tough to know what Puffy Hair sets out to do. Leaving the show with no more understanding of its aims than one had upon entrance proves frustrating – it is tough to say if a production achieved its goal when the goal itself is murky. There are also some jokes that don’t land or simply don’t work. There was an aside about rape toward the beginning of the performance that, however it was intended, was tough for this reviewer to get around in the context of the larger show. Which is a shame, because other relatable parts of the show – such as the compulsion to tweeze a chin hair as soon as discovering it – are charmingly resonant.
Though Geltman is a compelling performer and there are some genuine moments of humor in Puffy Hair, the show overall feels a bit premature. Polishing up the shiny bits and revisiting the overall intention behind the piece could serve the project well in its next iteration.
Runs Through 20 November 2021 | Photo Credit: Kevin Frest