28 September 2007

The Outrageous Beverly Parker

MELBOURNE FRINGE 2007
The Outrageous Beverly Parker
28 September 2007
Fringe Hub


Beverly Parker is indeed outrageous. She’s also shocking, irresistible, hilarious, passionate, gorgeous and honest. Her self-titled cabaret show is pretty damn fine as well.

Many outstanding performers use the stage to hide their real selves. Some performers create a character to tell their story. Beverly Parker uses the stage to reveal her true self. Everything you see is a totally honest and that is what makes The Outrageous Beverly Parker such a compelling show.

Parker takes us through some of her life. She’s been a table top dancer, a bikie moll, accidentally provided a training video for the bill in Redding and was the only coloured face in a posh white suburb in South Africa. Her stories are told with a humour that can only come through love and truth. She has structured her tales well and never overwhelms or bores with unnecessary detail.

The shows works with just the outrageous stories and costumes, but what makes it so powerful and ultimately satisfying is Parker’s story of discovering her family in South Africa, as she lost her mother to cancer. We are all complex and diverse souls, no matter how enticing or repelling the exterior.

Her song choice combines disco, jazz and traditional African music. I’m not sure if anyone else could make this combination work so perfectly. Each song is chosen for the story it tells and for the story Parker has just told the audience. Ella Fitzgerald’s Miss Otis Regrets is one of the most powerful works of art created about racism and violence. I’ve heard it performed too many times with the sensitivity of elevator music. Parker’s rendition is the most beautiful, relevant and sincere version I’ve heard. I’m sure Ella would be proud.

And Parker can sing – very, very well. Her voice is as huge as her personality, but her skilled mike technique doesn’t overwhelm the small venue.

Parker plays the tiny North Melbourne Town Hall Tent like it’s the Speigeltent. This show deserves a much bigger venue. Parker’s stage presence could fill the biggest room and she deserves to be seen my many. The classic advice for any artists is “leave ‘em wanting more”. I’m sure that anyone who gets to The Outrageous Beverly Parker will want more and more.

This review originally appeared on AussieTheatre.com.

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