Let the fun begin
By Bradley Storer
Upon entering the Main Stage area at Revolt, the audience is immediately immersed in the dingy but seductive Prohibition-era charms of the ‘speak easy’, with tables set up close to the stage and lit eerily by candles. The dark cavernous space of Revolt seems an oddly fitting place for this 1920’s tale of a party thrown by a pair of vaudeville performers on their last legs – a potent cocktail of sin, depravity and eventual tragedy.
Rosa McCarty is a knockout as Queenie the party’s hostess, a blonde bombshell past her prime, throwing herself into the fading performer’s depths of hedonism and disillusionment with abandon and a fierce belt.
James Cutler is continually compelling as the brutish Burrs, her abusive and bullying husband, bringing ferocious energy and sinister glee to the role that makes him exciting to watch. Their volatile and destructive relationship, although disturbing, is vividly invoked by the two performers.
The musical unfortunately has trouble finding its feet in the first act. Despite a cavalcade of strange and curious characters that pour onstage at the beginning of the show, including a charming polysexual predator (Ed Deganos), a lesbian stripper and her borderline comatose lover (Samantha Hammersley and Renee Pope-Munro) and a creepily close pair of male twins (Samuel Dariol and James Worsnop), there is a lack of energy onstage which makes the ‘party’ atmosphere hard to maintain. Maree Barnett as the cunning diva looking for a comeback emits smouldering ambition, while wielding a pair of surprisingly flexible legs like a weapon. The arrival of Kate, a vaudevillian star and Queenie’s best friend/enemy (played with commanding confidence by Alana Kiely), and her lover Black (Christian Cavallo) raises the spirits of the ensemble considerably, culminating in an Act Two ode to gin that explodes with an dynamic vitality that has been missing so far.
A daring move is the inclusion of a secondary ensemble, a collection of malevolent Satanic spirits who seemingly manipulate and corrupt the characters unseen by anyone whilst wandering offstage and through the audience – a very original idea, which has mixed results throughout the evening. While feeling like an unnecessary addition in the first act, director Robbie Carmellotti finds some electrifying tableaus in the second act that utilize them to a better degree.
An evening of daring and boundary-pushing theatre that, while sometimes not entirely succeeding, is nevertheless admirable for the depth of its invention and ambition.
VENUE: Revolt Melbourne, 12 Elizabeth St, Kensington
DATES: 31st July – 3rd August
TIME: Tue to Sat 7:30pm, Sun 3pm
TICKETS: A Reserve $60/Concession $40, B Reserve $45/ Concession $30, C Reserve $25, Table of 8 $900