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Review: Smashed: The Nightcap at Wharf 1

Review by Scott Whitmont


The recently renovated Wharf 1 Theatre at Walsh Bay has been transformed once more for Sydney Festival’s wild and sassy Smashed - The Nightcap cabaret with a team of impressive and talented drag stars, acrobats, singers, musicians and circus performers. 


Rear racked seating remained as normal whereas the audience at the front of the theatre were seated around lamp-lit cabaret tables with a welcoming in-theatre bar, set up along the side of the venue for the ongoing and welcome provision of cocktail libations throughout the evening’s revelry. 


Host and band leader Victoria Falconer (who is Co-Artistic Director of the Hayes Theatre) quickly won audience support with her warm and cheeky MC’ing skills whilst simultaneously demonstrating great singing and multi-instrument playing talents. Moving her way through the tables, she picked out individual audience members with whom to engage in fun banter and often deliciously naughty repartee.   


One by one she introduced each act and performer, vying (it seemed) to outdo each other with their varied talents and all more than ably accompanied by a top-notch four piece live band.


Towering drag-artist Tynga Williams wowed the audience with her dancing, supple acrobatics and perfect lip syncing act while acclaimed aerialist Bridget Rose (a Cirque du Soleil star) further excited the crowd with a death-defying suspended hoop routine.

To the musical accompaniment of American Woman and with an audience ‘volunteer’ simultaneously feeding her a ridiculous number of marshmallows, carny Malia Walsh had the crowd in hysterics with her multi-hula hoop performance. She further demonstrated her multiple talents in an impressive fire juggling act, appropriately set musically to Burning Down the House.


In case there was doubt, burlesque star Karlee Misi proved that Smashed is certainly for adults only with her titillating Nasty Girl strip act, having well and truly warmed up the crowd with her take on Kylie Minogue’s Locomotion

Direct from New York (and with her own show also as part of the Festival), grand diva Rizo had the crowd in raptures with her bawdy ad-libbing and compelling rendition of If I Were Your Woman.


Impressively assisted by Victoria Falconer and performed to Cold Chisel’s Cheap Wine, Courtney Act’s story of lost love and trauma stood apart from the regular hilarity and frivolity of the evening. Recounting her tale with the consummate professionalism we’ve come to expect from one of Australia’s most celebrated and talented performers, this superbly sung and powerful number, filled with pathos, demonstrated just how far Act has developed her persona and emotional range far beyond that of a mere fun-loving drag queen.


Running way overtime to its advertised length, audience participation acts could be cut much shorter but everyone fortunate enough to find themselves at Smashed will happily bask in the joyful, deliciously audacious antics of this gifted ensemble of cabaret talent and leave energised and grinning from ear to ear.

Image Supplied


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