Daring but confident in performance and premise, The Miss Behave Gameshow’s outrageous fun infused a competitive comradery and electric mood within its audience.
The Miss Behave Gameshow.
Headed by London’s Queen of Cabaret and Guinness World Records holder Miss Behave (Amy Saunder’s alter ego), The Miss Behave Gameshow was birthed at Adelaide Fringe in 2014 and has circled the globe, with an extended residency in Las Vegas winning a 2018 Best of Vegas Awards, to come full circle in its sensational legacy in Melbourne as part of the Midsumma Festival.
The Miss Behave Gameshow is a satirical theatre production come subversive gameshow propelling participants to cheat and think. Flipping through instruction cards, Miss Behave and her reliable side-kick, Tiffany, obliged audiences to play the game. The point-based rule-less games moved fast with a mix of childish guessing quizzes, rampant chaos with the invitation to do anything for a point, and deeper antidotes, like locating and honouring the eldest audience member for their lifetime of wisdom. Occasional dances and circus tricks by the two performers and other cameos ensured the audience never worked too hard for their entertainment. Through a euphoric sharing of banter, reflections on the value of community and self-expression amongst current political tensions were subtly weaved in without abandoning an emphasis on audience enjoyment.
At first, the stage presented an array of cardboard signs with affirming messages, scribbled with sharpie, behind Miss Behave in her all-glitter attire and Tiffany in her mini safari suit (which would stay on some of the time) waiting for their guests. This basic but comical set-up was soon secondary as the two dynamic performers grabbed at their audience to facilitate a sense of community. As guests arrived, they were asked to follow a seating arrangement and use their phones as lighting and gaming devices. Before the gameshow had even officially begun, the audience were already part of the performance.
A plethora of Vegas flavour, a pile of cardboard signs with absurd game instructions and a rolling playlist of pop hits kept the audience buzzed. However, it was the relationship of performances between Miss Behave, maternal and in control (in a cool aunt way), the gravitating and saucy wiles of Tiffany, and the audience’s wits and quirks which built a vibrant, energetic production.
Despite the wild premise of asking her audience to dance and scream under the guise of a gameshow, Miss Behave’s orchestrated experience was welcoming rather than anxiety inducing. The readiness of the audience to be comfortably engaged within minutes of the show opening and more so as it progressed demonstrated Miss Behave’s craft of community engagement through embracing theatre. Such embrace lacked force and invested in a feeling of consent: opening the floor for those brimming with energy to let loose and, without pressure, allowing the more reserved side to ease their cooperation into the growing merry.
The Miss Behave Gameshow.
Revelrous, rather than rowdy, the show opposed Lord of the Flies-like expectations that inciting an excitable crowd of strangers will be catastrophic. Through her glamourous leadership, Miss Behave was empathetic of jarring isolation in turbulent times and tapped into the radical ideal that people have a mutual desire to enjoy, laugh, yell and dance together in blissful harmony. Yet, she was not offering a political answer but rather respite as the show was never overly-charged by rather peppered with timely cultural, social and political references.
In an era of divisive outrage, the part-comedy, part-circus, part-riot kept a consistent light-hearted mood through allowing its happy audience to become incrementally closer together through play.
Miss Behave succeeded in drawing out the audience’s participation through an outstanding creation and sustenance of an ecstatic mood. In this, her gameshow encapsulated the essential need to freely use one’s voice and energy, however ludicrously, for a resulting beautiful collective chaos.
Rating: 5 stars ★★★★★
The Miss Behave Gameshow
Midsumma Festival 2019
Miss Behave (Amy Saunders)
22 – 27 January 2019
Arts Centre Melbourne, Fairfax Studio