Saturday, 23 September 2017

How To Kill The Queen Of Pop - Theatre Review

What: How To Kill The Queen Of Pop
When: 15 - 30 September 2017
Where: Studio 1, Arts House
Written by: Tom Halls, Adam Ibrahim and Samuel Russo
Performed by: Simone French, Tom Halls, Adam Ibrahim and Samuel Russo
Costumes by: Penny D'Aloia
Sound by: Jo Buchan
Makeup by: Samantha Pearce

Samuel French, Tom Halls, and Adam Ibrahim
How To Kill The Queen Of Pop is a hilarious queer reimagining of some behind the scenes happenings during the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Playing until the end of the month at Arts House this clowning romp and roasting of our very own girl-next-door pop diva, Vanessa Amorosi, won't give you a minute to breathe as you laugh the night away.

I suspect French and Halls have a secret obsession with the 2000 Olympics because last year I saw them at The Butterfly Club doing another farcical satire around the Olympic mascots in What's Yours Is Mine. This time around, Halls has pinned his eagle eyed gaze on Australia's least glam pop star ever and the team spend the hour long show having wonderful drag fun with how down home and unassuming Amorosi was in the beginning.

The show begins with video footage of a street interview Amorosi did where a reporter caught her coming out of the stadium after an opening games rehearsal. She was wearing the least glamorous tracksuit in the history of the world and bangs (a fringe) long before they became chic. Her first mega hit 'Absolutely Everybody' was rocking everyone's world and was to be a part of the opening ceremony.

Enter Tami (Russo), Tiffanee (Halls), and Tulfah (Ibrahim). These three fashion icons, also known as the T-Boners, are school chums of Amorosi and let her join the group. They fancy themselves as a super diva singing group but everything changes when Amorosi dumps them for a solo chance in the spotlight. How To Kill The Queen Of Pop is glitter infused revenge porn which travels at a cracking paste which can only lead to a train wreck of stadium proportions.

These four performers have established a constant career of working together in various combinations since training at VCA and the precision with which they perform shows just how in sync they are. How To Kill The Queen Of Pop is clowning of the highest calibre and sets a new standard for the art form.

My only reservations about the show is the portrayal of the female. When the show started I thought I was in for a fun and fantastic trans romp and was all set to go. I realised a little while in though, that the men were not playing trans or drag - they were playing actual women/girls - and that's when I started having reservations.

Yes, I get the clowning and don't deny they did it well but I found myself wondering about the privilege on display with regard to portraying women in this manner. Why? What is being revealed? Does what is being portrayed move us forward as a society or backwards? Does the freedom of the queer voice on stage come at the detriment of the female on stage?

Having said that, I confess to having laughed the night away and was surrounded by a room full of zealous audience members. It has been a long time since I have been in a theatre space where the audience were actually willing to express their response to the show in a way everyone could see and hear. It was almost more exciting than an ANZAC Day football match!

The topic might be aging but the fun is as lively as ever and queer theatre is hot right now. I dare you to try and not sing along to Amorosi's earworm anthems as the show progresses...and I am seriously getting one of those little crop sweaters Tami and Tulfah are wearing!

4.5 Stars

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