Red Bennies presents: Exposé

Melynda von Derksen

MELBOURNE FRINGE: A bi-monthly event designed to showcase some of Melbourne’s best new talent from the world of circus arts, vaudeville and burlesque performance.
Red Bennies presents: Exposé
Exposé is Red Bennies bi-monthly event designed to showcase some of Melbourne’s best new talent from the world of circus arts, vaudeville and burlesque performance. This time around, and programmed as part of the Melbourne Fringe, the event was a fundraiser for some second year NICA students who are off to China.

Greeting us as we made our way up the staircase were three adorable but trashy drag queens by the names of Pina Colada (Daniel Powers), Nina Memone (Simon-James Reynolds) and a moustached Tina Tinkles (Dion del Pino). Flaunting a distracting combination of short dresses and muscular arms, this trio kept the crowd in high spirits by acting as our MCs for the night.

The first act we were treated to was an interesting display of meteor manipulation by Brittany Steffens. These glittering balls were attached to a long piece of rope which she twirled around and above her body. Steffens then showed us how to manoeuvre a martial arts sword while still looking cute in a schoolgirl outfit.

Next up was Nicola Cairns with an aerial hoop act. Set to the song ‘It’s a Man’s World’, Nicola looked every bit the femme as she showed us that she would not jump through hoops for just anyone.

Following Cairns was a sexy 80’s inspired rolla bola act by Gerramy Marsden. Complete with a boom box, fluoro green hotpants and a significant bulge in his pants, Gerramy soon converted his boom box to a rolla bola board and displayed his balance and devil-may-care attitude by not only juggling while balancing but also by shoving his bottom in our faces.

We were then treated to a rendition of ‘Popular’ from the musical Wicked by Cinderella’s stepsisters – aka the Drag Queens, the final act before the interval, who returned thereafter to entice us away from the bar and back to our seats. They were soon followed by a beautiful Spanish-inspired static trapeze act by Liz Kajko, who not only gave us a display of her strength, poise and flexibility, but threw in some daring heel and toe holds as well.

The next act was unique, and showed us how a vacuum cleaner can become an object of desire. Entering the stage, in a pink gingham maid’s outfit and ballet points, was Shannon Vitali. No innocent little ballerina she, for as soon as Vitali turned the vacuum cleaner on, with a little help from Queen, she turned into a raucous rock Goddess and played that vacuum cleaner like it was an instrument, throwing in some splits and contortion just for good measure.

The final act was Brett Franzi with his exciting web rope act. Dressed in skintight lycra pants and carrying a teddy bear, this acrobat excited the audience with his spinning tricks and aerial bravado. I’m not quite sure where the teddy bear fit into the scheme of things, but that’s the chance you take with a good old fashioned variety night!

On a final note it would have been a treat to see the three sisters do a circus act, but I guess you can’t have it all.

Rating: Three stars

Red Bennies present: Exposé
Performers: Brittany Steffens, Nicola Cairns, Gerramy Marsden, Liz Kajko, Shannon Vitali, Brett Franzi, Daniel Power, Simon-James Reynolds & Dion del Pino
Red Bennies, South Yarra
September 24 and October 1

Melbourne Fringe Festival
September 21 – October 9

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Melynda is a Melbourne based freelance photographer, arts manager and fashion stylist who enjoys creating her own projects and reinventing herself on a continual basis. Graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts in 1996 where she majored in technical production in theatre, she has worked as a lighting designer, stage manager and theatre all rounder for many of Melbourne's best known creative companies. Eager to expand on her professional career, in 2004 she undertook a post graduate degree in arts management at the University of Melbourne. Since then she has worked in the area of arts administration and has used her skills to coordinate many successful cabaret events around town. As well as being part of the La Mama family for almost a decade, she continues to stick her finger in every type of creative pie that life has to offer. She is currently researching and writing a photographic book based on the history of the Melbourne Punk scene (1977 - onwards), which she hopes will be published in the next few years.