Fem-led fierceness

In Your Dreams (Polytoxic)

Brisbane Powerhouse

November 23 – 25

Polytoxic is an Australian collective known for creating hyper-visual, pop-inspired performance work built upon the foundations of diversity, collaboration and intersectionality, and their new cabaret work, debuting at Brisbane Powerhouse’s Melt festival celebration of queer art, artists and ideas, is very much in keeping with this mantra. Though scaled down from 2021’s “Demolition”, “In Your Dreams” still explores some very big and important ideas. Forget Aria, Oscar and Matilda… this is an awards ceremony for the future, with all the glamour, drama and entertainment you could want. It’s a utopic vision where everyone is recognised, presented as a femme led future. We appreciate this from the moment its troop of performers takes to the stage’s red carpet to take out their anger upon the statutes that line its runway.

From there, we are welcomed to the FOMOEOS awards (you will have to go to find out what this acronym stands for) by Polytoxic leaders Lisa Fa’alafi and Leah Shelton. There is a bit of a film theme running through its early numbers, which include musical nods to “Rocky” and “Grease” (with an unusual in-time audience clap along) as bros BIG M.I.C (Busty Beatz) and Young Harrison (Hope Haami) attempt a misogynistic reclaim.  

The work features a line-up of glass-ceiling smashing, system dismantling, genderqueer, fiercely intersectional artists including Alinta Mcgrady, Kim ‘Busty Beatz’ Bowers, Lilikoi Kaos, Mayu Muto, Matehaere Hope Haami Aka Hope One, Gogo Bumhole, Richie Lestrange and Rhythmology. The ensuing range of acts includes the usual mix of disciplines, only perhaps with more provocation than the company’s previous works, meaning that this is not a show for the easily offended (who may have to check their privilege), in terms of both its language and conceivably confrontational subject matter to some.

Numbers include impressive aerials, big vocals, beatboxing, hoops, street dance, lip-sync, drag and performance art and there are many highlights from within them. Fearsome warier Mayu Muto takes advantage of the lofty Powerhouse Theatre space to impress with some gravity-defying aerial rope work, while ripping apart anyone who gets in her way. In another of its circus-themed acts  Fa’alafi twirls fire sticks sans fire in a frenzy that creates an amazing visual spectacle. And Shelton shows strength and skill in a memorable sex-doll pole routine.

Nothing is off limits in this loud and proud mother of all #hellyeah take downs, which has been created and written by Fa’alafi and Shelton in collaboration with the cast. Kayne BIG M.I.C returns to the Polytoxic stage, uninvited and unannounced to steal the limelight and take home all the awards, and the ensuing 90s r-and-b boy band ‘Hot Brown Homies’ parody is absolutely hilarious in its exaggerated r-rated reminders of the genre’s dance moves and archetypes.

One of the features of a Polytoxic show is a dynamic soundscape and, in this regard, “In Your Dreams” does not disappoint. With music direction by Fa’alafi and Shelton in collaboration with Kim ‘Busty Beatz’ Bowers, the soundscape is as big as it gets and adds much to the amplified aesthetic. And when Badass Mutha Alinta Mcgrady takes gold with a late-show ‘Winner Takes It All’, her passionate delivery not only emphasises her vocal talent, but focus us on the show’s articulated spotlights on notions of body sovereignty and similar.

Unforgiving and unapologetic activism is what this company is all about and “In Your Dreams” is a fierce, in-your-face reminder of this in its essential, explosive celebration of glass-ceiling smashing and colonial hetro-normative patriarchal system dismantling. This is a fantastical VIP-style party where the queers, outcasts and political activists are celebrated and win the awards they deserve. Indeed, “In Your Dreams” is a theatrical feminist feast of disruption that (literally) rips to shreds antiquated notions of girls on film and alike. Its inclusive celebration of resilience and freedom never wanes in energy, including in its sensational slip and slide curtain call.

Photos c/o – Jade Ellis Photography

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