Beyond the bawdiness

Boy&Girl (Oscar Theatre Company)

Brisbane Powerhouse, Visy Theatre

April 3 – 19

Cabaret is not what it used to be as audiences who have seen any of the cheeky promotional material for “Boy&Girl” will know; this is a show that has been sold as a raunchy adults-only dip into debauchery, which is a shame actually, given that it is so much more to it than just this.

The Powerhouse’s Visy Theatre has been transformed into an Underground Bar. Much like at the WTF hit, “지하 Underground”, which featured just meters away, patrons are encouraged to drink, dance and lounge in the couches of the intimate surroundings. As they do, they are entertained by a sultry singer and the roaming raunchiness of near-naked cowboys and alike, all suspenders and skin, with lustful eyes and predatory stillness.

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In the hands of avante-guard Emcee Chris Kellett (in a very different role from his last Oscar Theatre Company guise in “Next to Normal”), the audience is soon welcomed to the cabaret. Although the cabaret is French, the welcome is German, with Kellett’s flamboyant figure drawing strongly from “Wilkommmen” of “Cabaret” fame. “Leave your troubles outside,” he decrees. “In here life is beautiful. The girls are beautiful. Even the orchestra is beautiful” And thus, the musical show begins, albeit infused with some French farce naughtiness.

Oscar Theatre Company makes it clear that its intent is to blur both genre and gender lines. Music moves from Broadway to pop, via Disney, always with a twist. Boys don heels to strut their Beyoncé stuff, ‘Single Ladies’ style, and there is a strong all-male “Chicago” ‘Cell Block Tango’. Indeed energy is high heading into interval, before blasting back with ‘It’s Raining Men’. And with a cast of over 20, the Visy is often bursting with the show’s bawdiness.

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There are also a number of softer moments, of dance and music, including a GI version of ‘Call Me Maybe’ and a haunting ‘If I Was a Boy’, however, their potential impact is perhaps lost, individually sandwiched as they are between higher-energy numbers. It’s mix tape logic 101 gone awry. And while separate, the musical choices are good, fused together they fail to provide a consistent momentum. Unfortunately, microphone issues on opening night were also a distraction from the show’s fluidity.

Choreographer Dan Benz ensures that good use is made of the space (although there is need to play more to all three sides, in keeping with the Visy’s dynamics), while Jason Glenwright’s lighting design brings the decadent setting to life in all of its sass and sexiness, but also captures the emotion of its poetic dance numbers.

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As expected, the anthems are there, including the shared celebration of a final ‘Born This Way’, but really, they aren’t needed. If you’ve bought a ticket to the show, it is a pretty safe bet that you get it, without need for the “No matter who you are, no matter who you love… you are always welcome” epilogue.

As a cabaret show, “Boy&Girl” has many strengths, including the impressive skills of its charismatic performers. It is such a shame that its gender-bending agenda distracts from this. Gender politics aside, however, “Boy&Girl” represents a genuinely good time. With a few drinks, a few friends and a loosening of inhibitions, audiences are sure to have wonderful one night stand of crudity, rudity and riotous fun.
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Photos c/o – Oscar Theatre Company

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