Venue: Old Fitzroy Theatre (Woolloomooloo NSW), May 3 – 7, 2022
Director and Performer: Cheryn Frost
Co-Writers: Brylie Frost, Cheryn Frost
It is the artist’s passion that takes centre stage in Volcanoes and Vulvas, a one-woman show that excavates at the deepest recesses of Cheryn Frost’s psyche, for a theatrical portrait of feminine desire and queer love. The natural phenomenon of volcanoes, with all their eruptive force, is introduced into these discussions about the libido, as well as drawing humorous parallels between geological dikes and Frost’s sexual identity as a proud lesbian. A reminder perhaps, that the social and the natural, are to be regarded as one and the same.
The work resides in a place of impulse and emotion, which means its intellectual dimensions can feel somewhat under-explored, but its powerful aesthetics draw us in convincingly, and convey with exactitude, the internal realities of what it must be like to be Frost. An exquisite set design by Jessie Spencer, along with hypnotic lights by Frankie Clarke, seduce us into a state that is both rapturous and viscerally erotic, helping us connect the libido of humanity with the palpable drives of the rest of nature. Angus Mills creates a soundtrack that surreptitiously disarms, operating like sonic lubrication, in order that we may welcome the artist’s earnest expressions with commensurate openness.
As performer, Frost is charming, with a distinct vulnerability that keeps us firmly on side. It is admirable that she pushes herself to points of discomfort, so that a more dramatic experience could be manufactured, but it is in more introspective moments where Frost feels most authentic and inviting. At approximately 40 minutes, Volcanoes and Vulvas is unapologetically succinct. There is an insistence on honesty, of only saying what the artist wants to say, even if it is ultimately a simple and small statement.