One of the first things you might notice upon entering the Arts Centre is the gender neutral bathrooms. Kudos. Shortly after entering the theatre, you will also notice is Sarah Ward’s big cabaret icon alter ego personality Yana Alana claiming the stage. Ward hosts a diverse group of artists performing songs, dance, queer clowning, live music, performance art, and aerial acts. There’s something about celebrating a long hiatus from theatre (and a long hiatus from basically everything) with an energetic, unapologetic production at the Arts Centre. (I was first introduced to the F*ck Fabulous experience at a late night Melbourne Comedy Festival variety show that featured a nude feminist number involving some intense bouncing on trampolines). Based on that sample size, the full production lived up to my expectations. The set matches the costumes with everything and everyone clad in layers of colourful, textural clothing. The acts are equally varied and seem like in pre-covid times they would be just at home in a crowded, smoky, boozy venue with raucous patrons and audience interaction. (Versus a seated mid-week audience politely clapping a performer clad in a leather daddy bear costume singing ‘Somebear Over the Rainbow’.) There’s quite a bit of nudity in the show, along with a smattering of politics. Occasionally the two converge, such as in a memorable bottomless ScoMo parody. However, a majority of the nudity doesn’t appear to be staged for comedic or shock value. Rather, the performers seem at home in their own skin and don’t need to ask permission or approval for what they do with their bodies. Yana Alana is determined to give patrons their money’s worth with a two hour production stacked with short acts. Each is enjoyable in its own way and can stand alone as short individual pieces. However, there is no through line to carry a narrative, so it feels like a show that could go on in perpetuity with no clear ending other than programming the most bombastic number as the finale. It left me wondering if the show might be stronger curated into a shorter, tighter set, or if we’d miss some of the heart and our own personal journey though the world of F*ck Fabulous.
Cheers to Midsumma and the Arts Centre for programming f*cking fabulousness in all shapes and sizes. Now go forth and support live theatre!
Jenny S. is an event adventurer who spends her free time sampling craft beers, seeing shows, and dreaming about using her passport to travel internationally (and not just when she’s crossing the Yarra).
F*ck Fabulous runs 20 April – 2 May (120 mins) at Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne VIC 3004. This venue is accessible. Book tickets now.