Monday, 24 September 2018

The Phoenix Rises: The Second Cuming of Juniper Wilde - Cabaret Review

What: The Phoenix Rises - The Second Cuming of Juniper Wilde
When: 20 - 25 September 2018
Where: Errol's
Created and performed by: Alexandra Hines
Alexandra Hines
The Phoenix Rises is the follow up cabaret to Hines' successful Comedy Festival show I.M. Immortal earlier this year. Playing at Errol's it is the next step in Juniper Wilde's (Hines) career which sees her moving from pop icon to New Age transcendental meditation guide.

Juniper Wilde has escaped from an enlightenment camp - a step up from the rehabilitation institutions she was in and out of previously - and found her new purpose in life. Juniper has found peace and centredness and has built a new Vegas megashow of which she is giving us a preview version - a very, very, very, reduced version. "It's a blessing."

The room is filled with smoke and incense (health warning) as the audience enter and are seated and Juniper greets everyone individually, making us feel welcome and relaxed. Then the show begins.

From a cloud of serenity Juniper explodes into a high energy pop number. Juniper Wilde is some sort of hybrid star with elements of Britney, Madonna, and Lady Gaga - she is probably the best elements of them all, complete with wardrobe malfunctions. "It's a blessing."

Playing on the tropes of all the pop-psychology surrounding meditation and wellness, Juniper takes us back - no that's not far enough - to our childhood - no that's not far enough - to being a helpless babe in arms suckling at our mother's teat. Yes, we are all searching for our mother's love and Juniper finds it in the arms of some poor unsuspecting audience member who is destined to don a maternity bra and burp her after feeding.

I heard a guy behind me say "that's hot". I don't understand men at all! "It's a blessing."

There are fun reprises from I.M. Immortal including the brilliant 'Fuck The Partriarchy'. It also turns out Juniper did land a small role in Neighbours and went on to stalk Rob Mills. In an attempt to create a reality TV show, she knocks on his door but as he points out, he knows what a reality TV show is - "I've been on 6 of them" - and this is not reality TV.

The Phoenix Rises is funny and insightful. I did not see I.M. Immortal but from what I have read, I would suggest this show lacks some of the heart and honesty of its predecessor. It runs at a slightly frantic and anxious pace.

There is a lot of audience participation but I have some reservations about audience consent. There doesn't seem to be an opt out although most of what we were asked to do was fairly passive. I also have a bit of a question about cultural appropriation at the end with the use of the feathered headdress but I think it is an artifact from the first show so it does work as a linkage perhaps.

The Phoenix Rises is a fun and frenetic show with some fantastic home truths about the meditation and wellness industry. Oh, and no actual dolphins are eaten in the making of this event. "It's a blessing".

3 Stars

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