At The Weird & The Beautiful produced by Scarlet Bell Burlesque, the creativity was absolutely boundless. The performers were stunning. So much of what I saw in the luxurious Perth Town Hall could definitely not be found anywhere else.
This show is a celebration of performance, of body, of the ancient roots of what we see at Fringe yearly. The Scarlet Bell performers stood proud as they taught us about the original vaudevillian performers by embodying everything that they were and transporting them to the modern era. They should indeed be very proud of what they’ve accomplished.
The opening number was so dramatic. There were a few decisions that I didn’t understand- like why some people had gorgeous, extravagant masks and why some had none. It also looked at times like we were watching two different sets of choreography, which is probably a result of either not discussing how fast the hand should slide up the thigh in unison, if we pose on the beat or off the beat, how far the arm extends, etc. Or maybe those things were discussed and changed a few times throughout the process leaving everyone on different pages. Regardless, the concept was stunning. Dancing to classic circus music with organs and accordions that you rarely hear in the modern era. Looking down at the audience, unsmiling and otherworldly in dazzling showgirl gear. I was awe-struck.
Each performer was very different and all shined in different areas for their spotlights. Let’s pull them all apart.
Sugar Du Joure – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Sugar Du Joure was our mistress of ceremonies – and as I’ve learned this year, the host really does make or break a show. Sugar held this lofty responsibility with mostly ease and a bit of a giggle. She had her own little ongoing act in between our main numbers as she transformed from something beautiful, to something weird, to a bit of both, and back again. I’m very glad she was allowed to engage with the entertainment rather than being a separate entity from the show like many hosts are. This seasoned keeper of the crowds knows exactly what buttons to push and straps to pull off to remind an audience that they are allowed to cheer during burlesque, and give them a reason to do it. Always a delight.
Pixie Lust – ⭐⭐⭐
Pixie always had a smile on. I don’t know where she was keeping her glitter but with every move there was notably more sparkles in the air, like she actually exhales pixie dust. She seemed more nervous than the other performers but did just as good of a job on the energy front. Her costume was easily the most impressive. I’d like to see her more sure of herself next time so each of her movements are more defined and it’ll all lead to a better stage presence.
Lilah Sin – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Our mermaid of the evening was mystifying. Transforming from something beautiful, shimmering, elegant into something dark, hungry, and a little spooky. I’ve heard that this performance was based on P.T. Barnum’s Fiji Mermaid hoax, and I feel like Lilah captured that uncanny essence successfully. The makeup was applied skillfully and appropriately. I’m always a fan of Isis Wings, and the props that gave the impression of water were gorgeous. Lilah has a strong imagination and I can’t wait for it to be fully unleashed so we can one day see the extent of her creativity.
Lykinia Derrierre – ⭐⭐⭐
Lykinia Derrierre had a performance inspired by the dance of the seven veils, which is a great idea in a burlesque lineup. However it didn’t shine through quite as much as the other performances did. While the idea was there, the execution wasn’t as strong. There were a few sheets of fabric to take off, but in the end it just felt like a regular burlesque performance, missing the theatrical edge that this show brings to the table.
Mistress Mustang – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Mistress Mustang played the lamia, beautiful snake woman of Greek myth. She held our gaze with every turn – so much confidence, so much power. She clearly has a strong passion for performance and has great showmanship. We could all learn something from her.
Trixie La Rose – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The strong woman who was confident, had fantastic facial expressions, and was hilariously macho. You could tell Trixie did her research, every pose looked like it was right out of a vaudevillian strongman poster from the 1890s. The props were great quality and the physical jokes were even better. She made us laugh ’til our pants split. The stage kitten holding the mirror looked a bit out of place once her bit was over and probably could’ve either come on and gone off or interacted a bit more, but apart from that there’s not a lot of flaws in this sketch. I’d like to see it again one day.
Autumn Daze and Foxxxy Curves – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The duo with three very sizzling and very strange numbers of their own! They very much deserved the extra stage time. These clowns were a major highlight each time they came on stage. Starting with weird, then jumping to beautiful or – more accurately – sexy, and then taking it all the way to combine both concepts perfectly. Autumn Daze is a star, Foxxxy Curves is a star! They absolutely shined as they fully embodied the thesis of the show and executed it with a casual precision that is hard to achieve. Things went wrong as things always do in a live performance but they carried it all off in stride. Each leg was fully extended, each arm straight, each facial expression both hearty and appropriate for the situation. These two are truly highlights.
Elle Entice didn’t perform tonight but deserves a very special shout for producing this extravagant menagerie of bedazzled bodies. Stage kittens Dasha Sparkle and Ivy Vines were also very lovely.
As for the final number with all dancers onstage, the choreography was somewhat more complex than I’ve seen in other shows. It was enjoyable but experienced some of the same issues as the opening number. All of the performers had clearly warmed up by now, however, and were much more intense as they looked at us and had much more energy in each step, although not always in unison when it should’ve been. The part where they were intentionally performing two sets of choreography was more in sync, all in all it could’ve just used a little extra time to bake. Most Fringe Shows are like that though.
Now we get to where the missing star is. It wasn’t any major flaw, just a few little bits that could use a bit more polish. The tech was doing it’s best but there were a few missed cues and late entrances where both the audience and performers were waiting for an awkward amount of time for the music to start or the lights to go up. Additionally when performers pranced around the crowd we could’ve use some lighting on them, and there were a few moments where they looked like they were testing lighting halfway through as the dimmer changed from bright to dark to darker to bright. Some of the performers were lacking either technique or confidence or other obvious things. That’s okay though, it’s easier to grow in those areas than to learn creativity, and thankfully if this group has anything going for it, it is surpluses of imagination. The Scarlet Bell Troupe is only going to grow in experience and iron out those kinks (but not all the kinks if you know what I mean) and I do truly hope they reprise this show one day after maturing a bit longer.
The Weird & The Beautiful is a magnificent celebration of body, of some of the very deepest reaching roots of Fringe World – vaudeville. It is a respectful homage to both an underutilized genre and an incredibly important piece of performance history. I’m very glad The Weird and the Beautiful was created and I will be keeping an eye out for the ext Scarlet Bell production.
The Velvet Card Critic