The highlight of the scenography though is the live music. Benito Di Fonzo’s interjections add an extra dimension to the show, and the pair play well off each other, with Donovan subverting the norm by shutting him down in the way that sexist men often do to women. While fun, I don’t necessarily feel that the cabaret numbers enhance the show; if anything they break the flow at times. But Di Fonzo’s gutsy backdrop of electric guitar and percussion (including a snare and a rainstick) does add something extra, fuelling Donovan’s performance. It lights her fire, and there sure is a lot of fire.
But is that a good thing? I’m always here for some feminist rage, but there is so much rage in this show that it becomes atonal. As an audience member, I want to be surprised. In a show about serious issues, I want to leave thinking a little differently than before. Cockroach sparks anger and not much else. It is a playing out of revenge fantasies, which is exactly what it markets itself as, but I would love to see something progressive in it as well. The show lacks a shift, and I leave with the exact same feeling that I had only five minutes into the show — the further 55 minutes don’t bring anything new. I would have loved some soft, reflective moments to contrast with the anger and give the show some arc.
That said, Donovan must be commended for her immense energy on stage. She pushes her body and her voice, and maintains her power for the full duration of the show. I definitely don’t want to see any of this power sacrificed. The nature of the show does create some barriers between the performer and the audience though, and it would be great if the audience was better welcomed into the space, as there were times when it felt like audience members were under attack rather than being rallied behind C.
Cockroach is showing at BATS in the Heyday Dome at 7pm until Thursday 5 March as part of Wellington Fringe. To book tickets or for information on other shows in the festival, visit the Fringe website.