From the moment the first performer is lifted by a hook in a bun of her hair above the stage to enact a scene reminiscent of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon using excerpts from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons Recomposed by Max Richter, this show is a whirlwind (at times on rollerskates) of dance and comic theatre encompassing united nationalities and colour. The eclectically soundtracked routines and unrelenting pace was such that one scene followed another and you were focussed on something new while barely moments had passed.
There’s Carnivale–style dancing and flag waving before a mother gives birth to a watermelon that is subsequently sacrificed before the distressed mother comically eats some of the “afterbirth”. It’s not all fun and games though as one performer’s weirdness permeates the show with a first appearance as a pseudo Marilyn Munroe-esque stripper dancing to Diana Ross’s Muscles. Her later appearance in a rubber Baywatch swimsuit with a grotesque, disconcerting black-toothed “alien” performance of seemingly drug-induced repulsing choreography (musical cue the Flamingos I Only Have Eyes For You) may stick with you longer than you would like.
Of course there are certainly some cleansing routines to swing you away from thoughts of the aforementioned disturbance such as the orange feathered catsuit-wearing performer reminiscent of Josephine Baker interacting with the audience prior to an onstage classic tap-dance number evoking a Golden Age of dance accompanied by era appropriate music.
There’s something very refreshing about the genre mash-up sequence that starts as a whoopee cushion recital of the Blue Danube Waltz, becomes the scene of a rap video using B.M.F. (Blowin Money Fast) by Rick Ross and closes with a funeral march of the performers off stage.
The unsettling blonde follows her two previous appearances as Marilyn Munroe and
David Bowie’s The Man Who Fell to Earth by channelling Grace Jones with
stilted robotic body movements before Sobrevivire (a Spanish version of Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive) is used effectively during an angry hula hoop routine. The penultimate number is one that is worth waiting for and includes an effective surprise appearance by a diminutive artist (think the colour purple) before the return to stage of all the performers in a sequence soundtracked by Donna Sumner’s MacArthur Park that features the use of hirsute hula hoops.
Speaking to the cast afterwards, I discover that my interpretation and character references (i.e. Josephine Baker, Marilyn Munroe) were not actually intended. Whether we all have slightly differing views of the show we have just seen, I guarantee that the consensus will be that this is a thoroughly enjoyable show and one that I strongly recommend. Quality Novelty is a world premiere and Australian exclusive from Briefs Factory. On the basis of this show alone I would encourage attendance at their other shows this Adelaide Fringe, Briefs: Close Encounters and Brat Kids Carnival.
Fringe Review By Jason Leigh