A venue power outage does not stop writer and performer Frankie van Kan from delivering an exciting and empowering performance. Directed by all-round theatre-maker Maude Davey, van Kan’s solo debut A Body at Work is a beautiful confessional theatre piece about a queer woman’s life in the sex industry.

Van Kan’s writing is poetic and lyrical. Fragments of her life are seamlessly weaved together with her exhilarating choreography. She oozes confidence as an erotic dancer and never fails to arouse the audience’s cheers.

In the non-speaking featured role, Daniel Newell is brilliant and comedic in their convincing portrayals of assorted customers who frequent van Kan’s workplaces.

In this dynamic and highly entertaining performance, van Kan addresses the issues she experiences at different stages of her career. From body insecurity to internal whorephobia, from performing for straight men as a queer woman to the irony of throwing away a stranger’s ejaculate while yearning for motherhood, her storytelling is vulnerable and thought-provoking.

Van Kan interrogates toxic masculinity and sex negativity as she compares her interactions with clients in a public strip club and in a private massage parlour.

There is something powerful and liberating about a woman fully embracing her sexuality on her own terms. The male gaze does not take away van Kan’s control over her boundaries or dignity. Objectification only fuels the power she has over her body.

On opening night, the venue experiences a power outage for the last quarter of the show. The cast and crew shine with professionalism. Technical manager Ellen Perriment relocates the laptops to the front of the stage and continues the sound cues with the laptop speakers. Illuminated by smartphones held by Perriment and the audience, van Kan completes her performance. Without the distraction of loud music and lighting design, her storytelling is even more intimate and captivating.

Van Kan mentions that society does not believe being “just a stripper” is enough; and it took her years before she learned to take pride in being “just a stripper”.

Being just a stripper is certainly enough, but she is undeniably so much more. She is a writer, performer, masseuse, and most importantly, a mother.

A Body at Work is playing at The Lark at Gluttony until March 17.

Read more 2024 Adelaide Fringe coverage here on InReview.

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