When seriously adult-only panto Little Orphan TrAshley opened at the Powerhouse this week, Trevor Ashley and co-writer Phil Scott showed the world at large why only creative Queens can get away with the kind of vulgar, disrespectful and politically incorrect humour that other public figures are banished from society for attempting (ahem, Eddie Mcguire).
As an uncanny, albeit larger-than-life rip-off of family favourite Annie, Fanny (Trevor Ashley) escapes the clutches of washed-up drunk, orphanage mistress Miss Trannigan only to find herself lost on the harsh streets of Kings Cross in search of her biological parents and gender realignment surgery. She sings and c-bombs her way into the heart and millions of one Daddy Warhorse and collects a leg-lusty mutt named Bullshit along the way (chap-clad Rhys Bobridge spends most of the night on his knees).
The star-studded cast boasts a creepy Gary Sweet who doubles as millionaire philanthropist and suspect paedophile Daddy Warhorse (mispronounced every which way you can imagine) and the polka-dot pyjama-clad Seuss-like narrator. The fabulous, scene stealing cabaret icon Rhonda Burchmore is hilarious as boozy desperado, Miss Trannigan. Sweet and Burchmore delight the audience with their high camp and ultra naughty behaviour.
Initially launched in Sydney in 2012 under the title TrAnnie the show was threatened with boycotts by apparently offended members of the transgender community (more than one thousand people signed a change.org petition calling for its cancellation) and legal action by the producers of the real Annie. As such the show was rebranded absorbing the dramas into the script as fuel for the Fanny fire.
Nothing is sacred as far as TrAshley is concerned, layers and layers of gags poke fun at everything from Peter Slipper to King Kong to boat people – this show is not for the feint hearted. In Ashley’s own words it is “like a children’s show gone horribly, horribly wrong”. Anthony Warlow (recently debuting on Broadway as Annie’s Daddy Warbucks and rumour has it unimpressed by this show) receives a good ribbing by his Sweet Daddy doppelganger but some gags are certainly cringe-worthy prompting a look over a should to see if anyone else is laughing (everyone is). As I suggested there are just some things that only a Queen can get away with and Trevor Ashely wields that unapologetic cheek with fantastic results. But underneath all the highbrow and low language there is also a fun-filled night of magic musical numbers and some seriously funny send-ups. Rhonda Burchmore plays a memorable evil radio personality named Ellen Jones – that just has to be seen.
So if you’re the type that likes to make up dirty lyrics to popular songs and if you’d like to hear Gary Sweet sing the word ejaculation and have his leg mounted by Rhys Bobridge then Little Orphan TrAshley is the show you’ve been gagging for. But if you’re easily offended or referenced in the show in any way – best you see something else.
Little Orphan TrAshley is playing at The Brisbane Powerhouse till 20 July. For more information, see their website: www.brisbanepowerhouse.org