Charles Moore – venerable one-time editor of The Spectator – took three tomes and tons of verbal acuity to get under the skin of UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in his biography of her, so it was with avid interest one went to see how Steamworks Arts and Feisty Dame Productions would cover Australia’s first and only female equivalent, Julia Gillard, in a one-hour solo dance/theatre presentation.

Natalie Allen in Julia. Photo © JLG Photographics

Granted the period to be covered was much less (three-and-a-bit years) and one would have to say the comments about Gillard were hardly acute – venomous might be more accurate – but both women were singular in their ability to stand resolutely alone under the scrutiny of a coliseum full of out-for-blood opponents. And this dance production was its embodiment.

Created by performer Natalie Allen and director Sally Richardson, Julia started out in 2018 as a 12-minute expose of “female leadership, personality, power and the body politic.” It reflected on Gillard’s 14-minute speech in parliament in 2012, known as the “Misogyny” speech aimed particularly...