This Gendermess production is a different kind of drag show, with performer skill winning out over spectacle.
The members of Gendermess like to deviate from the norm, and in the drag scene the norm stereotypically involves big songs and glamourous get-up. Gendermess' song choices and costumes tend to be a little different; often they’re not even songs, and in C.D. the costumes are not what you might expect.
The show begins with Ginava and Vaboux dressed entirely in white, save for a pair of great red lips plastered across the white hoods over their faces. The lip synching that follows is to excerpts from films and other clips, and when they do get onto the costumes and songs, these are minimal and unconventional respectively. Choices include Fatboy Slim’s ‘Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat’ and ‘The Origin of Love’ from Hedwig and the Angry Inch, dispersed among often obscure cinematic dialogues.
A particularly effective moment involved Ginava, dressed in a khaki uniform jacket and hat, reciting a general’s speech on the better points of humanity from some lost decade of the 20th century. Another moment involves a rather rude reworking of Alicia Bridges’ ‘I Love the Nightlife’ and ends with a giant purple dildo being forcefully stuck to the wall, much to the surprise of the audience members seated close by.
The curation is loose and connections between pieces often undefined, but the show overall is a completely captivating experience. The pieces are often familiar but cloaked in obscurity, situated just beyond the point of recognition. And because the performers are not busy bamboozling their audience with spectacle, cracks are allowed to form in the façade, creating perhaps more depth than your average drag spectacular. The naked skill of the performers shines through, and the audience is drawn into the emotion and darkness of the material. While the quality of some of the costuming suffers, with a low-fi felt hat band here and $2 shop wig there, it’s all part of the aesthetic. Costumes are of minimal importance; it’s the performers who are on show here.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Gendermess Productions presents C.D.
Written and performed by Ginava and Vaboux
The Laneway Lounge, Perth
27 – 31 January
Fringe World 2016
22 January – 21 February
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