Sippy cups, school uniforms and sexual intercourse. Katy Dye brings her Autopsy and Lustrum award winning show Baby Face to Brighton Dome.
Baby Face by Katy Dye is an outlandish exploration of infaitlisation in a world where peadophillia is condemned but the kink of school girl role-play is widely accepted. Award winning performance artist Katy Dye channels her inner baby to explore the messy world around infantilisation and innocence, very apt on International Women’s Day. It’s worth noting that Dye is 27 but looks much much younger.
Straight away we are greeted with the deafening screech of a baby which makes us wince in our seats. A countdown starts that sets the uncomfortable tone of the piece with Dye counting down from her age and pairing them with physical traits, her declaration that “You have the labia of a five year old!” rightly got an audible and physical wince from the audience. The most discomforting moments come from direct interaction with a chosen audience member, on this instance a male in his late twenties. Dye, dressed in a school uniform, asks the male “Do you find me attractive?” which is met with a long silence, a calculated answer from the participant followed. I feel this is the most important section in the piece and the overall tone hinges on this moment and ultimately the choice of who is picked by Dye, is important. Dye forces us to think that If it was an all female audience, would we view the moments she asks the participant to stroke and carry her as maternal, rather than predatory?
The talc-bomb sensory overload design by tour designer Eleni Thomaidou works well in this context, furthering the uncomfortability of the very loud baby cries and the Britney Spears ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’ era routine. Dye accompanies the attack by warping her body, violently throwing herself around the stage. There is no argument that Dye is an extremely talented performer and that this piece has a extremely pertinent message that makes you not just look at innocence; but constantly reminds you.
This production is not made to make you feel comfortable, in any way. Baby Face certainly starts a conversation and raises extremely important arguments but I think it raises more questions than it answers, we are made to feel uncomfortable but I see a lack of pastoral care in her approach to the audience, especially in the participant used throughout.