BWW REVIEW: Engaging, Entertaining and Educational, Courtney Act Shares Her Story In An Effort To Help People Understand Gender Fluidity With Her New Cabaret FLUID.
Friday 21st February 2020, 8pm, Eternity Playhouse
Internationally famous Courtney Act returns to Australia to share her experience with gender fluidity in her new cabaret FLUID, complete with fabulous frocks, beautiful hair and all new musical compositions. Heartfelt, honest, intelligent and embracing, this a refreshingly open and enlightening work that informs and explores in a warm and safe environment.
Under Cameron Menzies' direction Courtney Act, the feminine side of Brisbane born international performer Shane Janek, employs a blend of exposition, song, dance and costume evolution to help audiences understand that we can move beyond the narrow labels and expectations to explore qualities that "transcend the binary". Rising to Australian fame with her 2003 appearance as a semifinalist in Australian Idol, Act has gone on to build an international profile as a Drag artist along with being an advocate for gender fluidity and the LGBTIQA+ community through shows like Ru Paul's Drag Race where she finished in the top 3 for season 6, Celebrity Big Brother UK which she won in 2018 and the 2019 Australian Dancing With The Stars in which she was runner up. In the two-act performance co-written by Act/Janek and Brad Loekle, Act is honest and open about her journey to understanding the intricacies of her identity as Courtney and Shane whilst blending in a liberal dose of cheeky and often self-effacing humor. She helps explain the complexity of the labels that are available and how they can help a person to identify with a group whether it be based on the gender or sexuality and the importance for other people to respect that a person has chosen to identify themselves one way over another. She articulates her message wonderfully and it is clear that she has a thirst for knowledge and a great skill at sharing it which fuels the hope that she will one day realize her dream of creating TED Talk - The Musical complete with PowerPoints which she does manage to slip in to the show.The nine songs composed by Janek and a series of collaborators that include Ian Masterson, Sam Garfield, Lucy Moss, Toby Marlow, Zak Ghazi-Torbati, Joe Crow and Brandon Rogers are wonderfully clever and are rendered in a combination of prerecorded click-tracks and live performance by Music Director Conrad Hamill on Keys and cello, Yanya Boston on Drums and Marc Malouf on Guitar. Whilst there were sound-tech issues on opening night, hopefully these have been rectified for future performances so Act's glorious blend of pop and haunting warm vocals can be presented unhindered. While the majority of the work is a solo performance, Act capitalizes on her experience on Dancing With The Stars to include a graceful waltz with ballroom dancer Netanel Abisedon during Vienna Tryst. Set designer Aaron Rhyne allows sufficient space for this dance, and Act's solo dances whilst also providing a sense of grandeur with the series of semi-sheer white drops that also help form a textured surface for the variety of projected animations that accompany the musical numbers. FLUID is a wonderful piece of theatre, both as a strong piece of engaging cabaret and as a work which may help someone struggling with their identity as well as helping to educate those that don't identify as LGBTIQA+ but want to understand more so they can better support people who do. Well worth catching and hopefully Courtney Act will also tour this production so audiences around Australia and overseas can experience this beautiful work from an amazingly inspirational human.
Photos: Clare Hawley