Review by Hannah Fredriksson
I know this is a family friendly blog, so let me just start by saying The Seven Sins of Sideshow Femmes is not for the faint of heart - it’s strictly 18+ and prefaced with multiple content warnings. So maybe this review should come with a content warning. If so, this is it. If you’re squeamish, perhaps you should move on. But if you love the thrill of danger and don’t mind a bit of punishment, then this show is right up your alley.
The Seven Sins of Sideshow Femmes is burlesque meets freakshow with a side of unexpected pyrotechnics. The acts are provocative, thrilling, and downright messy - so much so that between most acts a couple of stagehands emerge wielding dustpans and stickvacs to refresh the stage for the next performer.
Bella Dejac is the devilish host of this Sideshow, they kick off the show with remarkable presence and sinister flair, and they introduce each of the Femmes throughout the show.
The first sin we are treated to this evening is Greed, with a high energy performance by Abbii Alora. She dazzles the audience with her LED hula hoops, creating a trippy animated optical illusion as they oscillate in the dark. It’s wonderfully controlled chaos that feels like a fever dream on a Las Vegas strip - the kind of place where people can lose it all if their greed gets the best of them.
Next up we have Lust, with a firecracker of a performance by the show’s incredibly talented producer Scarlet Tinkabelle. Their act evokes the pleasure and pain of passion, with an industrial edge that delivers our first ‘don’t try this at home’ moment of the evening. When I tell you this act involves grinding on a bed, it’s absolutely not what it sounds like - the bed is a bed of nails, and the grinding is done by an industrial angle grinder, which Scarlet pounds to a metal guard on their crotch to illuminate the stage in rhythmic showers of sparks, all to a soundtrack that is beautifully haunting and carnal. It’s beautifully sensual and stimulating.
Next is Pride, with an act by the aggressively queer Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi performer Kitty Obsidian. They pull a series of pride flags out of various nooks and crannies of their body, and armed with a staple gun they fix them to parts of their body that are more out in the open - taking the phrase ‘wear your heart on your sleeve’ pretty damn literally. And honestly that’s how it should be - you should never feel like you have to hide your truth, you should wear it on your chest like a badge of honour. Which Kitty certainly does, with burlesque flair and a cheeky smile.
The next sin is Sloth. Sian Brigid has created a captivating experience that represents the agonizing discomfort of sleepless nights. Sian emerges on the stage looking like a broken ragdoll with harlequin-like hair and makeup. She begins with some graceful ballet, attempting to contort into a comfortable position to rest, but failing that she grabs her pillow and pours the contents out onto a sheet, revealing a pile of broken shards of glass. She then dramatically kicks and stomps the pile of glass into submission, before finally laying down across it delicately and falling asleep. I found this to be incredibly vivid and mesmerizing.
Next we have the sin of Gluttony with the Princess of Pain, with an act that can only be described as disturbing manic genius wrapped in a cat costume. Princess’s act turns the energy in the room back up to 11 after the more ambient Sloth number.
The last solo act is Matthew Pope’s saucy portrayal of Envy. He effortlessly performs aerial acrobatics on a trapeze in painfully high looking heels. For a moment the audience is hypnotised and all eyes are on the man of the moment, who truly is the centre of attention and the envy of all.
The show ends by literally going up in flames - a crescendo with all the Femmes expertly wielding fire to an ominous sounding version of Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This. Maybe it was a regular version of the song, but the audience was roaring so loudly I couldn’t really be sure. Hey if this is what hell looks like, then sign me up.