An abundance of glitter, gyrating and voodoo rituals are all just components of your average night out for Lady Vendredi and her merry band of twisted miscreants The Vendettas. Described as a launch for her new single ‘What Time Is It’, I entered a dry ice filled hazy studio space at the Roundhouse, to witness a confusing mix of thrusting, the same three notes on a loop and a cast of elaborately-dressed crazed individuals. If felt like the cross between the warped minds of Grace Jones and Lady Gaga. The spectacle that unfolded can be best described as bizarre ‘performance art.’ At first I was completely baffled by what was unfolding before of my eyes, then when I realised that Lady Vendredi seemed to actively encourage this state of permanent bewilderment and in fact there was no narrative thread to grasp, I allowed myself to accept the bonkers realm that we were being made to inhabit.
From hula hooping, to being force fed popcorn to being made to chant feminist slogans, the evening relies heavily on a receptive audience willing to go on this discombobulating voyage with them. It’s a firm case of, if you can’t beat em’ join em’! Many do decide to join in (although some do so more willingly than others). One of the most difficult scenes to watch involved a demented lady stripped down to her underwear smothering her face and the outline of a womb with blood-red lipstick whilst aggressively asking “What are you looking at?” Another scene sees Ignacio one of the few males in the cast don a nun’s habit, rosary beads and fishnets and suspenders. Scenes which seemed not to have an narrative function other than to be rife with shock factor.
That said, some of the odd episodes did feel like fillers so that Lady Vendredi could get changed into a new costume. The moments when the lady of the moment took to the stage to sing or rally her troops felt more cohesive and entertaining. The parts without her were stylistically lacking, and I don’t feel like they added anything to the overall experience. The whole production could do with some heavy editing, and at 90 minutes felt too long and drawn out. Had this production been half as a long, it would have undoubtedly been more enjoyable.
Amidst the padding and the downright bonkers there were moments I enjoyed, and I think in all honesty Lady Vendredi: Battle Cry is a very acquired taste, something that failed to seduce my palette.
Lady Vendredi: Battle Cry played at the Roundhouse on the 23 and 24 October. For more information, see the Roundhouse website.