Baby Face is loud, intense and provocative; a performance made for both men and women to interrogate their respective roles in a society that continues to prefer their women ‘childlike’.
Katy Dye’s Baby Face is a raw, disturbing treatment of a topic that rarely gets the publicity it requires: society’s problematic infantilising of women. Dye frequently experiences infantilisation herself (according to a recent Theatre Bubble interview), and exaggerates her youthful features further here by dressing in baby clothes. She wails loudly and throws the highchair around the room, like a child throwing a tantrum. And if the beginning all seems a little overwhelming, as soon as Baby Face begins to directly interact with the audience, the harsh reality of what Dye has been saying hits you in the face.
Because Baby Face is right. When Dye starts asking men questions about whether they find her attractive and whether they would go out with a school girl, the tension is awkward. They answer – if they answer at all – as modern society prescribes, but there is no resoluteness in those answers. There’s a maybe hiding. It’s also an interesting observation that although men often readily respond to invitations to interaction, many were silent here, even refusing when asked directly by Dye.
There’s not a lot of pop music involved in the performance, but when a number is played, it’s very apt. The famous Britney Spears classic (Hit Me) Baby One More Time speaks volumes about the media selling the sexy schoolgirl look to the public. Dye repeats Britney’s choreography from the video and puts in a context where we cannot deny the problematics of the 90s hit.
Still, one of the hardest-hitting aspects of Dye’s Baby Face for me was that we as women are to blame as well. We are complicit, if nothing more. On a quest to be loved – described in the very early stage of the show by the timeless I Wanna Be Love by You – we agree to fulfil the ‘babyface’ fantasy. We, quite literally, buy beauty products that will make our skin soft as a baby’s. In this sense, Baby Face speaks to both men and women – interrogating both roles in a society that continues to prefer their women childlike.
Baby Face is an intense performance which, throughout its duration, primarily messes with your emotions. While the show unfortunately offers a couple of periods of annoyance (particularly near the beginning), many great theatrical moments – that rightfully evoke absolute disgust with the world around us- come thick and fast. And upon leaving the venue, it stays with you for days – thought-provoking and provocative.