Friday, 10 June 2016

Retro Futurismus - Cabaret Review

What: Retro Futurismus
Where: Fortyfivedownstairs
When: June 11 - 28
Created by:  Gabi Barton, Anni Davey, Maude Davey, and Anna Lum
Performed by:  Stella Angelica, Gabi Barton, Anni Davey, Maude Davey, Anna Lum and Leah Shelton.


Retro Futurismus is the latest original offering by Anni and Maude Davey and is currently being performed at fortyfivedownstairs.  To categorise this show is impossible except to say that it is true variety.  The show includes circus, burlesque, cabaret, puppetry, etc… and it is as fun and funny as all hell!

The term Retro Futurism refers to the idea of the future which prevailed in the past and which we, today, retrospectively consider.  The original goal of Retro Futurism was to find in the past the ideas for the future – or ‘progress by looking back’.

The show avoids too much overt political commentary, but the Davey sisters start the show (after the brief re-introduction to bad synth beats) with a hilarious poetry ‘rap’ number which directly references Tony Abbott as a proponent of the movement.  As will all ideologies, there is the good, the bad and the ugly…  What makes this even more powerful is their don Johnson suits, new romantics quiffs, and full whiteface makeup.

Another way of looking at Retro Futurism is to consider ‘the tomorrow that never was’  - think The Jetsons and Star Trek.  This show goes deeper than those iconic shows though. Lum’s lazer lit hoola hoops in her Buck Rogers/Barbarella silver body suit and constant reappearances as robots of the ages (including the obligatory air conditioning duct which also references the slinky) are a wonderful reference to our hilarious vision of technological advancements.

Barton has fun with fashion and art as she plays with style over comfort, some Flashdance references, and a real life interpretation of the surrealist art movement. Angelica gives us a beautiful torch song and then a floor stomping, roof lifting Tina Turner.

Anni Davey brings the circus with a stunning recreation of the moon landing which morphs into some hilarious Kubrik references, and Shelton does an amazing homage to Laura Palmer.  Maude Davey creates a stunning Hitchcock montage which is beautiful timing given the MTC’s offering at the moment.

This is only the tip of the iceberg.  There are four stages – and the rest of the room which is set up with tables and chairs, cabaret style.  Retro Futurismus includes so much to see and so much fun to be had, and it is not restricted to the stage.  Shelton’s chinese pole act is mindblowing.

The show is built on historical references – most of which are confined to the last century.  It is funny, but it doesn’t really poke fun, or demean any of those ideas that we travelled through to get where we are today.  In many ways, most of this performance honours and celebrates them, but it also shows that they are in the past for a reason, and that we must move on.  Looking back is good for nostalgia, but not for decision making.

I don’t think you need to understand all the references to enjoy this show.  It is a bit silly, and very funny even just on the surface. 

The costumes are absolutely amazing, and the lighting is superb.  Of course, if you do get the references you are just going to have a whole other level of fun!  It’s a bit like having your own little secret joke with the creators if you lived through this stuff as it was happening.


4 Stars

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