Walking into the small, intimate 86 Cabaret Bar on Smith Street in Fitzroy is rather like walking into an old-school comedy room. The room is small, dark, smoky (but from the occasional wisps from a smoke machine, not tobacco), atmospheric. There’s a well stocked bar to the right. There are small, candlelit tables at the front for those who arrive early enough to secure one, and behind them fold-out chairs in theatre-style layout for those who don’t. There’s a thick red velvet curtain with gold edgings shielding the stage, and pre-show music playing. The only thing that was missing? The comedy.
It Takes Two is not a traditional comedy of the type that Squirrel readers would be accustomed to. The two vastly talented performers are not comedians. They don’t do stand-up or impro or musical comedy. It’s a drag show, and it’s a drag show with some funny moments, but the comedy plays second fiddle to the elements that make a drag show great.
Polly Filla and Felicity Frockaccino are two of the best credentialed, and most popular drag artists in the country. Both hailing from Wellington in New Zealand, they have bought their two highly successful individual careers together for the Midsumma Festival. And given that they now live in different states of Australia, it can’t have been easy to get the show together.
There are certain elements that make most drag shows special, but make this one remarkable. Firstly, the lip-syncing is spot on. Songs are lip-synced amongst beautifully rehearsed and energetic dance routines, and often whilst impersonating the original purveyor of the song. From Adele to Bassey, the impersonations were excellent, and generated many of the smiles in the audience. The other element of comedy comes from the performers lip-syncing comedy routines. Now whilst this isn’t what your usual comedy audience would be used to, it’s really impressive to watch. The hours of rehearsal must be enormous. And it was great to be reacquainted with some classic comedy routines from days gone by – from the likes of Fast Forward, The Comedy Company and Bette Midler.
The other elements worth mentioning about this show are the design features. The costumes, wigs and make-up are simply phenomenal. Colourful, flamboyant and magnificently OTT. The sound track was well constructed and kept the show moving along at a reasonable clip. Lighting and stage effects were effective and added to the professionalism.
So in short, if you’re looking for a night of original comedy in the Midsumma Festival, this isn’t it. If you’re looking for a fun hour with great music and two polished performances, you should give this one some consideration.
It Takes Two is playing at the 86 Cabaret Bar in Fitzroy from the 18th to the 20th January.
Bookings and info: https://midsumma.org.au/program/ittake18