In a magnificent re-birthing of the cabaret, Director/choreographer Timothy Brown shakes the dust from the moth-eaten nineteenth century salon scene and hurls it far into the future creating a sensual blend of a debauched rock and roll vaudeville and the Fifth Element’s Fhlotsin Palace.
Inspired by real life Italian heiress and dandy, Marchesa Luisa Casati, Salon, playing now at the Judith Wright Centre, draws a wide-eyed audience into an eccentric underworld of the exotic and the erotic. Anything goes in the fashions and passions of these fine young things. An Alice down the rabbit hole exploration of the Diva Dominatrix and her menagerie, the Marchesa would certainly approve, having once said “I want to be a living work of art”; she is brought back to life and put on display by the provocative Elizabeth Whealen whose gimpish pet, the stunning swinging pole dancer Travis Scott, slithers around her and hangs off her like the real Marchesa’s snakes-alive adornments. The two dancers are constantly connected – even at opposite ends of the cat-walk, Scott’s expressive eyes catch glimpses of his Mistress as he seduces and manipulates on her behalf. In fact, not one of this superlative cast dropped their character once during the two hours or so of play.
Rival Diva Nerida Matthaei is an entertaining host who knows how to work the room, classical ballerina Iona Marques is stunning as she is drawn to the dark side and the divine duo Alex Wecks-hucks and David Trappes constantly impress with their effortless strength and flexibility while ‘peacock’ Anthony Trojman parades in those crazy backwards heels.
Integral to the lush layers of the extravaganza was ‘pop-art music oracle’ Michelle Xen and her band the Neon Wild who played loud and unapologetically. Xen has an awesome stage presence and a fabulous costume change for every song. What’s missing? Perhaps a bit of audience buzz as even though the Judith Wright Centre does well to look like a cabaret house, it’s missing the waiters, the food and the happy hum with audience interaction being minimal and safe.
Salon, is a hard one to describe but our fabulous host says it best as she bids farewell to a stunned crowd – “Mesmerizing isn’t it…” she teases “… and tiring”.
Salon finishes Saturday night at the Judith Wright Centre but not surprisingly it is sold out. It is one of those experiences that leave your ears ringing and your mind buzzing.