Rock goddesses reimagined
By Myron My
I don’t feel my 2015 Midsumma experience would have been the same without a touch of Agent Cleave. The sexy drag cabaret performer’s production Show Stopper was brought back to life for only a three-night run during this year’s Midsumma, where we were taken on a journey through 90s’ rock anthems and explorations of sexuality.
With his long, flowing hair, red lipstick and perfectly kept beard, Agent Cleave was a show-stopper himself and demanded our attention while on stage. Beginning with the aptly-named “Queer” by Garbage, Agent Cleave used a number of female-led rock anthems to reveal experiences of sexuality through five different female characters; a stripper, a mermaid, a lounge singer, a pirate and a virgin. The costumes for each of these personas had a level of simplicity to them yet at the same time, were completely genius in their design and concept.
Agent Cleave possesses an incredibly unique voice, which resulted some amazing moments of vocal talent throughout the course of the evening. Even with rock music not being my preferred musical taste, when accompanied by Melbourne musicians Pete Barry, Jonny Badlove and Kieran John Brooks, Agent Cleave ensured that everyone was glued to the stage as the artists performed classic songs by Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star), Peaches and Karen O.
Unfortunately, on the night I attended the sound levels did require some fine-tuning during the spoken parts of the show, as they were constantly drowned out by the music. Being only able to hear every third or fourth word, I ended up missing much of the spoken context and ideas that were being presented.
Despite this, Show Stopper was an impressive and entertaining show with great visual and musical moments that left you questioning, and blurred the line on what gender and feminine sexuality can actually mean.
Show Stopper was performed at Howler January 21-23.