Two intertwined tales of gender-bending
By Myron My
There are two stories that take place in All The Single Lad(ie)s, The Cutting Rooms Floor’s production for 2014 Melbourne Fringe Festival. One is drag show hosted by Tammy Packs (Braiden Dunn), who gives us some valuable life lessons and the other is set in a clothing store run by O (Verity Softly). The narrative of O looks at an incident at her store when a young man, V (Jack Walker), attempts to rob her at gun point. Things escalate from there and between every ‘chapter’ of this story, Tammy returns to the stage to dish out some advice whilst singing a few choice Beyoncé tracks that link back to the story.
The expectations and power of gender are explored in a way which does not make judgments or accusations but instead, leaves you to your own devices to provoke thoughts and discussion. Looking at such themes, it is not surprising that Beyoncé’s music is used, herself as an artist being a highly successful, powerful and influential woman.
The writing by Zoe Hollyoak is strong during the Tammy scenes, but I felt the story of O and V needed some refining. I failed to be convinced at how events transpired, and the narrative flow did not feel organic. Moreover, I would have appreciated knowing the motivations of the characters in order to be able to make sense of their choices. However, there was some good acting by the two actors, especially during the more confronting and sexually charged scenes.
Meanwhile, Dunn seems completely at ease as the host(ess) with the most-ess, Tammy, especially with some of the audience interaction that occurs. His version of “If I Were A Boy” is quite touching and shows a softer side to the show and his character.
Scott Corbett’s direction makes great use of the stage, especially during the confronting final moments of the show which pack a powerful punch.
In both worlds in All The Single Lad(ie)s gender lines are reversed, blurred and smashed to a climatic ending. There are admirable and committed performances throughout, but I feel these performers could all have excelled with a slightly less-forced storyline.
Venue: Revolt, 12 Elizabeth St, Kensington
Season: Until 4 October | 8:00pm
Tickets: $20 Full | $15 Conc