Until 07 Mar 2021

Review by Lance Jones

Helen Reddy sang “I am Woman” in 1971. Four years later the Family Law Act was introduced in Australia. Professor Carol Gilligan wrote “In a Different Voice” in 1982, and shortly after that we got the Sex Discrimination Act in 1984. Now we fast-forward to the 2021 Fringe and someone’s still singing the same old stuff about Feminism. “Why bother”, one may ask, “hasn’t it all been said before?” Of course, it has. We all know “the drill”.

Yet, according to Millicent Sarre (who allows us to call her “Mim”), “you can change all the law and policy in the world, but it won’t happen without a cultural shift”. And that pretty much describes her superb Fringe show “Friendly Feminism for the Mild Mannered”. This show is a part of the definitive cultural shift feminism has been looking for, championed by a well-mannered, affable, and intelligently talented individual who could well be a role model for feminists everywhere.

Blokes out there need not worry. The show doesn’t “attack” them. In fact, it invites them to be “allies”. Nothing to be scared of here. Mim goes through a list of things you shouldn’t be afraid of, all done with the funky backing of her excellent band. She also demonstrates a genuine concern for the mental health of men, lovingly crafted into the song “it’s Okay to Cry”. Mim understands, which would be refreshing for any bloke still stuck in the rut of toxic masculinity, a concept she also explained thoughtfully through song.

Speaking of “explaining”, Mim’s song “Mansplain” got it wrong at first. Lampooning a “roadie” supposedly “Mansplaining” the correct way to pack away mic chords, Mim missed the crucial point that some things have to be explained over and over, regardless of how irritating it may be. For example, flight attendants “Mansplain” the emergency procedures prior to every single flight, even though we’ve heard them do so many times before. In any case, Roadies the world over are very fussy about how to pack away their gear, so Mim’s example could be more accurately described as “Roadie-splain”. It really didn’t seem to be a “gender” thing at all.

Yet this was only a minor irritant. The show itself was not only entertaining, it challenged the patriarchy in a polite and non-threatening manner, and the audience were right there on board with her. Mim’s voice is evocative, emotive, and very easy to listen to. Her original songs are wonderfully crafted with excellent harmonies. The tunes are definitely “pop” songs in nature, but that’s not a criticism. The crowd loved them, and the embedded messages were well received. Her own self-disclosures were very brave and drew great empathy from the audience during the song “Me Too”. No-one should have to put up with that stuff, and Mim made us feel the disgust along with her.

Yes, we are still hearing about all this “Feminism” stuff, and we need to keep hearing it until that cultural shift happens. So, what do we do to hasten it’s arrival? Mim says we should be an ally, speak up and “call that shit out” as “the behaviour you walk past is the behaviour you condone”.

Wise words we simply should not stop hearing. Thank you, Mim, for presenting them with empathy and compassion.

Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5)