The La La Parlour
17 November 2006
The Famous Spiegeltent
Tarnished is ideal Speigeltent fare. It’s tight, sassy, funny and enjoyable, but remains unpolished. The appeal of the La La Parlour is their tarnished acts, but the show lacks the content and substance that would make it an outstanding cabaret.
Imogen Kelly, Tiger Lil, Kellie Vella and Neridah Waters are all engaging and fabulous performers. However, they need to decide if they are performing as themselves or as characters. Either way, further character development would create a much more intimate, and I suspect funny, show. There were hints of character and relationships between the four, but not enough to take it from a series of vaudeville style acts and turn it into an ensemble work.
Described as a shotgun marriage of circus and burlesque, Tarnished is two genres being forced to work together. Clowning, acrobalance, hoops and aerial are combined with the traditional vaudeville tradition of women getting their gear off. Artists like Azaria Universe have proven that the circus/burlesque marriage can be perfect, and with many female artists positively reclaiming burlesque traditions (Kunst ist Sheisse, The Burlesque Hour, The Town Bikes), it is unusual to see the tradition not being used as a questioning of gender, sexuality, desire and body image.
The Marie Antoinette cake strip, the spark spitting vagina and ongoing jokes about the shortest member of the ensemble do fit in the political burlesque category, but could all be developed further. The theme of the night appears to be knickers. The possibilities and power of this theme is endless, but isn’t used anywhere near as much as it could be. The poo/period stained pair of huge grundies is always funny, but how about a stained lacy g-string? Everyone should have left wondering if they were wearing “you know you want me” or “I can’t pick up tonight” undies.
Nonetheless, the sold out audience loved Tarnished. It is well worth seeing and totally enjoyable, but don’t go along expecting sharp politics and substance.
This review originally appeared on AussieTheatre.com.