Bang! Bang!

 

What a way to finish my role as a Brisbane Festival Citizen reviewer.  Bang! Bang! Rhonda Burchmore’s delicious, high energy show that is made from her wildest fantasies (mostly men showing a lot of skin).

The Courier-Mail Spiegeltent is a “tent” where the audience is seated in a circle around the stage and cat walk. The circle a traditional form to gather and turn your back to the outside world and enjoy a show, there are mirrors and stained glass windows as a feature in the tent, wooden flooring and mirrors surrounding the tent poles, there are booths tucked away along the wall of the tent and the alcohol flows from the bar. This is where Rhonda’s alter ego Ruder along with her guest star Rob Mills danced, sang, and tap danced down the cat walk while the live band played classics like Tom Jones and contemporary music like Miley Cyrus – they are so talented.

We sat in our fourth row seating with electric anticipation at seeing the show, Rhonda and her talented party spread their energy and enthusiasm through the whole Spiegeltent. The seventy minutes of the show flew by as the audience clapped and danced in their seats along with the classics and the mash-up of songs. There was wolf-whistles and appreciation for all of the delicious people on the stage (Rhonda’s words). Bang! Bang! Is a sexy production with plenty of six packs and skin on show. There was sequins sewn on to the most magnificent costumes that sculpted to perfectly fit and toned performers bodies, there was men in cowboy chaps and women in tiny leotards, there were sparkly high heels that danced with perfection all over the stage and cat walk, fantastically fun hats, glitter bombs and bubbles. The audience was treated to dancers in concert at floor level within the reserved seating next to the stage.

Rhonda Burchmore is the epitome of professional and talented after 30 years in show business. Australian audiences love her and the Brisbane Festival audience was screaming their appreciation to her as well.  I was in awe of her fitness and energy, she is so much fun and of course her legs that go for miles. She completely owned the Spiegeltent stage. Bang! Bang! was a perfect party atmosphere. So grateful to have seen the show thanks to Brisbane Festival.

 

 

Betty Grumble : Love and Anger

The award winning, Betty Grumble, surreal showgirl, obscene beauty Queen, and Sex Clown, brings to the Brisbane Festival.

Betty Grumble Love and Anger.

Love and Anger the show, is an excessive assault on the senses with Betty stripping all the way back to, the two, most powerful human emotions. Love and Anger.

The book, The Scum Manifesto is the thread that weaves its way through the show.  The book written by Valerie Solanas and published in 1967. The book centres on valid social concerns centred on patriarchy. Valerie wrote:  Men have ruined the world and it is up to women to fix it. Betty in her own wild approach to Valerie’s views, highlights that; women are still grappling with the same stories, conversations, and fears 51 years later. Betty Grumble is a conversation starter.  Conversations you never thought you would have. These dialogues are shocked out of you through various forms of expression.

On entrance to the Block at QUT’s Theatre Republic the room is a cloud of incense. Betty is quietly standing at the front of the stage a book covering her face, surrounded by suitcases and a white backdrop with scribbles of black writing. Betty welcomes the crowd and lulls us into a sense of community – that we belong in this space. She takes the time to assure us that all reactions are welcome and if our senses are overwhelmed there is no judgement in having to exit.  Betty is enthusiastic, and excited to share her show and so it begins. Betty Grumble Love and Anger, draws philosophies from The Scum Manifesto, Betty recites passages of the book through out the show, venting through an in your face, shocking and confronting communication of women’s liberation, the worship of the divine feminine and a woman’s body as a political playground. In an extravagant way Betty shows how movement, creativity and art is used to heal and expand the spirit of woman. A stripping naked of all barriers and exposing vulnerability in a safe womb like space. A singing vagina. A touch of magic. Cabaret dancing. The show involves science experiments, painting, and flower arranging in the extreme. Conversations on relationships. Relationships with yourself, Mother Nature and the environment, patriarchal relationships, mother/ daughter connections, bonds with your siblings and the weight that you each carry.

By the end of the show, the full frontal nudity was not so shocking to my friend and I that sat through the 60 minute show. Our drive home was an explosion of hilarity, tears from laughing and shock and at one stage chest pain. The conversations and questions that were screamed hysterically through the car were a testament to Betty and the boundaries and comfort zones she pushed within us.

 

Symphony for me

When we arrived the Arcadia was overflowing with families, enjoying family day at Brisbane Festival. We however, were on date night. We came into the city early to enjoy the vibe of Brisbane Festival, it took a while but we snagged a high table after stalking the previous occupants and enjoyed a beer, champagne and gyozas and the view of Brisbane. We headed to Divine and had some fun photos with the angel wings on the wall. Then I was drawn to the water again where, my husband had to drag me away from the river of light show to head to the Concert Hall at QPAC for Symphony for Me.

We headed to our fourth row seats for our first orchestra. What an interesting concept created by David Berthold and the Brisbane Festival team in 2015, to combine Brisbane’s public and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and arrange them both into one free show. To share personal experiences and how the selected piece of music has made up a snippet of the soundtrack of their life and in what way the pieces of music means to them in their memories, and what an honour to hear it in the concert hall played by some of the world’s best. Some of the stories were of romance, of fear and intimidation in their birth country, of visiting a liberated country, of remembering childhood memories with a parent that has passed. Pieces of music that young musicians have ambition to one day play.

I sat in my seat with my husband next to me and while the stories of others was lovely to hear it is my own memories that will stay with me. The conductor is a fun memory of the night. With each story and with each person he met on his stage he was generous and seemed genuinely filled with joy to present the music to them, he was entertaining to watch with the orchestra, and with his interaction with the audience. Of course the movie themes bought back memories of watching them with my movie buff of a husband. Hedwig’s Theme, Main theme Pirates of the Caribbean: The curse of the black pearl, Main Theme Forrest Gump and Main theme Star wars. What I, will remember of the music, is a romantic night with my husband. Sitting in those chairs together holding hands and appreciating such talent and skill, I was in awe and grateful to watch ultimate professionals in their field create such beauty, memories and emotion, to the point that I had to bring out the tissues.

While the people that chose the music had memories tied to the piece of music, I kept wondering if the conductor Brett Kelly and the orchestra, felt something similar. Knowing that the music they perform and the beauty of it stays with their audience, I wondered if they ever appreciate their own work.  I found the whole experience fascinating.

Thank you again Brisbane Festival and Aruga for the opportunity.