Review by Matthew Hocter
It’s no secret that the Adelaide Fringe has an overabundance, some might even say saturation of all things Drag, Queens and everything else in between. That’s not a bad thing either. But sifting through what not only appeals, but is of substantial quality can seem like a never ending and somewhat daunting task.
Thankfully recommendations via word of mouth and those in the know, always come to the rescue. One such recommendation from a friend was to “make sure you see Yummy.” Given that it has been two years since “the genre-busting, deliciously tasty, smash cabaret show!” (their words, not mine) has graced Adelaide's shores, it seemed only fitting that the first show this Fringe should be “Yummy”. Afterall, mediocrity is something I most definitely didn’t want (thanks, bye 2021) and words like “delicious” and “tasty” were at the top of my to do list.
As the music pumped through the loud speakers of the Melba Spiegeltent, the desert of never ending “no shows” and rescheduling over the last two years had now manifested itself into an oasis of eager bodies scrambling to get a seat. Seeing a show finally packed to the brim was a beautiful sight to behold and one that most people probably thought wouldn’t happen for quite some time. The night's “misleading” lady and director of Yummy, Val Hex, officially opened the show with some witty banter an introduction to the first act, circus extraordinaire, Jarred Dewey.
From the moment Dewey took to the trapeze above the circular stage, every set of eyes in the audience was transfixed on his every move. As he manipulated his body in, on and around the trapeze, his flexibility on full display and a stamina that could best be measured in equal parts masculine and feminine, there was something so subliminally erotic and sensual about his artistry.
With Drag and burlesque also forming part of the show, Drag Queen Bendy Ben delivered a delicious lip sync of Roisin Murphy's “Narcissus,” a welcomed break away from the stockstandrad catalogue of music that many Queens perform to. Following a lip sync that Murphy herself would be envious of, burlesque beauty, Velma Vouloir tantalised the audience with feathers and tassels like a majestic peacock in full blume. Vouloir repeated this feat again, later in the show with an equally arousing performance to “Foxy Lady.”
With more drag and lip syncs, Jandruze’s performance to Sophie’s “Vyzee,” was a nonstop lesson in precision and being on point. Drag artistry done to perfection. But it was Milo Hartill’s performance of Billie Holiday's “Strange Fruit” that smacked me in the face like a sledgehammer. Not only because it seemed totally out of place for the show, but also how Hartill’s delivery of a song that is steeped in racial injustice and violence was given its space to breathe. Her tone and the pain within her voice was evident. It was personal. Although it was clear that most in the audience did not know the song and couldn’t make the connection, the fact that Hartill brought this song into a space that wouldn’t normally be associated with such work was genius. After all, introductions are all that are needed to begin the conversation.
Dewey again took to the stage, this time with a more stylised dance piece, but still encapsulating that incredible artistry as he so perfectly moved, bended and manipulated his body to the sounds of Billie Eilish’s “When I Was Older.” To say everyone in that tent was transfixed on Dewey is in hindsight a gross understatement. Mesmerising might be a more seductive description of Dewey’s presence.
Yummy: Iconic was a pleasant surprise to be brutally honest. A surprise that demonstrated that true artistry IS still alive and that within said artistry are people who are unafraid to step outside of the perceived norm, whatever that may be.
Raw and Vulnerable. Fierce and Fabulous. Deliciously Iconic.