The Clams describe themselves as “Melb’s most Clamtastic, least professional, water ballet squad”. So, if you’re thinking their new performance for Fringe is going to be a slick feat of teamwork-based athleticism: don’t. Instead, they promise a bloody good time, while simultaneously hoping to de-stigmatise the conversation around periods with their show Crimson Tide.
Despite the fact that it’s something that affects half of our population, there’s still squeamishness around talking about periods. Tackling taboos is always a risk, but the Clams’ performance at Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Centre in March was a sell-out, proving there is an audience for a different kind of period drama.
With six months to finesse, review and prepare, the Melbourne Fringe version of Crimson Tide isn’t a carbon copy of the original.
“The format is a bit different,” The Clams’ Joanna Cooney says. “More visually … spectacular” she adds, laughing.
Details have been kept deliberately scant, because no-one likes spoilers, but we do know there will be new features and effects, and everything will be on a grander scale than before. The show is taking place at the Melbourne City Baths, and while audiences might not be “invited into the pool” like they were the first time, they will be given a zine created specifically for the event.
Having a show where the performers promise to “swim the story of the menstrual cycle” sounds like a fun concept – and it is – but fun doesn’t mean superficial. Beneath the jokes, the wordplay, and the deliberate nods to awkwardness, Crimson Tide has an important message at its core: one of body acceptance and of shrugging off entrenched shame.