New up-and-comer Spectacles Productions has presented us with their third cabaret to date, Stargazed.
The things they manage to pull off for their very first Fringe show is very impressive. The starsign thesis stayed faithful to the character embodied with each zodiac, which I feared would be sacrificed with my first impressions. I love being wrong. Some of the costumes were some of the best I’ve seen at Fringe to date, a pleasant surprise. Each performer had up to three acts, and I’m here to judge them with an overall mark rather than on each individual performance.
Liberty Genre – ⭐⭐⭐
Hosts rarely perform in the show they present, and Liberty has shown us why. Going straight into hosting after completing your own performance does break an illusion. Additionally, Liberty puts so much energy into her performances that immediately after when she has to not only post-announce herself, but also excite us for the next performer, she’s understandably too out of breath to complete the task with vigor. She isn’t known for hosting and needs more experience in it. I noticed her stumbling on her words and she was somewhat monotone, which was likely nerves. After all, she did put this whole shindig together, it’s her baby. I wish she would’ve propelled herself with that nervous energy rather than doing so well at controlling it. It’s disappointing to give her a low rating over her hosting when her performances were so enthralling! Her Cancer number was so emotional, raw, incredibly authentic. Her singing wasn’t phenomenal, but had many of the audience holding back tears, and that’s the most important part. She had such strong feelings that they easily transferred to us, and we could feel her sorrow. In the Scorpio number, a half-show performance where she is the star of the trio, the tone was totally different and showcased what Liberty is known for. Artistic movements, Fosse-inspired, classic performances with a modern twist. She also took the Virgo slot with shimmering elegance. I think she may have put a few too many tasks onto herself.
Justin Sider – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Justin does one specific thing very differently to most drag performers, and that is to use a rondo choreographic structure. He will choreograph a chorus and use that as a motif, an anchor to bring us back to after the verses. It’s overused in things like music videos, but severely unerutilised in the current Perth drag scene – which makes this niche special for Justin. It’s something different. Not only is his choreography special, his demeanour is sexualised and almost womanising while also being friendly and almost trustworthy. It’s a strange duality and I don’t know how he makes this work. All I know it’s that it is very entertaining. Justin took the slots for Gemini – a duo piece with Jaxon Coke – as well as the solos for Taurus and Aries. He took each concept and went above and beyond to bring more and more. He took base ideas and pushed them to their limits creatively. Not only is Justin a notable dancer, he also showed his comedy chops this evening with Taurus. He voiced his own audio clip to lip sync to in the style of The Bachelor and spliced 22 Jump Street’s iconic ‘Cynthia’ slam poetry bit in seamlessly. The crowd was cackling. The Aries number was perhaps even more dazzling, costume dripping in white and gold with an elaborate headpiece and a brilliant routine that had the audience on it’s feet. I’ve said that Justin is one to watch and I feel that this may only be the warmup for his first ever Fringe run.
Jaxon Coke – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Jaxon Coke was our loyal stage pup. It’s nice to see this subculture of the Perth LGBTQIA+ scene get a little love outside of the shadows of the Court Hotel. Not only was he crawling around on stage picking up various items on clothing, Jaxon was also busy performing two group numbers. He opened the show with Justin for the Gemini number, and was a third of Liberty’s half-show Scorpio trio. Both times he brought both intensity and a campy kind of fun to the stage. Very engaging with a lot of presence. Jaxon Coke is one to watch.
Bobby Knox – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Bobby Knox is such a punk performer, especially considering that they are a mentee of aforementioned Old Hollywood Glamour star Liberty Genre. Bobby took their solos for Libra and Aquarius, while performing with their mentor and Jaxon Coke in the Scorpio trio. Bobby got to show a vast range of their talents in Libra, a number with a moral, Scorpio and it’s homages to Bob Fosse, and Aquarius where they went full rockstar. They have a somewhat repititive choreography, but the execution is what really makes them shine. Each limb was popped with full force, stretched to the fullest extent, all of the vim it takes to do what Bobby does tires me just thinking about it. I could see and feel how much they love what the do, the passion they have for performance art. I hope that it drives them far to continue improving themselves, learning from others, and creating more works of art like we viewed tonight.
Flynn V – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
This isn’t the first time I’ve given Flynn V five stars and I’m certain it won’t be the last. He’s just hot, in every sense of the word, and especially this performance. It included a classic magic trick with the flame coming out of the book, and it was perfectly placed in the Leo performance. Good to see that Flynn is upping his burlesque rather than sticking to old tricks and comfort zones. The duality of Flynn’s two performances was striking. His Leo number was dark, spicy, a spoken word piece with intensity turned all the way up. His Capricorn piece was comedic, campy. His lips were in perfect sync with the song, to a professional extent. His movements were snappy and quick and confident and very clearly well rehearsed. Flynn is incredibly skilled and must work incredibly hard to create performances of such astoundingly high quality, and yet his demeanour is always effortless and almost casual. Very sexy, and the rest of the audience would strongly agree.
Peachy Sparkles – ⭐⭐⭐
Stargazed is the debut of Peachy Sparkles and I was thoroughly impressed at the level of skill she exhibits considering the lack of on stage experience. She started very strong, with confident movements and her mouth open wide for the lip sync. The choreography was good, albeit somewhat unfocused and executed without precision. I’d like someone to teach her how to spin her nipple tassles correctly. These things will improve over time though and I have no doubts that Peachy will grow and flourish very quickly. Towards the end of both her Sagittarius and Pisces performance she lost a few words in the lip sync, and it didn’t look like she’d forgotten them, I think she was just caught up in having so much fun that she was grinning too much to mouth the words. Her costumes were dazzling, and I’ve heard that she crafts them herself which adds a whole other layer of impressive. Very creative with especially good ideas. There was clearly a lot of care put into the numbers she did too, especially with the Pisces mashup and the audio spliced in. Once Peachy has been on stage a few more times and gets a grasp on all the things that you can’t prepare for, only learn from, she will be a fire that other burlesque artists will need to watch out for.
Lyric Lane is a bit out of the way for the general Perth Fringe circuit, but it is a very atmospheric and moody underground venue that fit the show very well. Downstairs is a data blackout zone which is kind of cool. The tech was so good, which I am finding somewhat rare at Fringe thus far. The techie knew their cues and hit them every single time, which contributed massively to everything running without a hitch.
This is very much unofficially a four and a half and has all the potential to reach five stars. However, as we know, the host is one of the most important aspects of the show, and it just isn’t Liberty’s strong suit yet. Perhaps some more practise will do it, but it’s probably best for Stargazed to just bring in another performer to focus on hosting without also tiring themselves out on multiple numbers.
I will continue to follow Spectacles and am keen to see what pleasures they next reveal.
The Velvet Card Critic