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Queer Revue: Needs some polish but lots of gold

Victoria Zerbst now feels a little bit sorry for Tony.

Under a sprinkle of condoms came forth the cast of queer revue on the AV screen. Did this betoken a rubber-insulated experience for the audience? Was safe theatre to be practised? Or would an orgy of love rain gloriously on the gay parade?  Of course it would! Of course it would!

When straight characters Susan and Dick arrive at The Birdcage in Newtown on a Wednesday night, they are surprised to find a lot of women with “short hair”. Played (curiously convincingly) by Eden Tollis and Georgia Kriz, these straighties failed to realise that Wednesday night is dyke night and also the night before Mardi Gras and also possibly a night of nightmare, as dictated by the title.

On this multi-important night of nights, these Jesus-praising liberals from Dee Why (spare us, spare us from such, oh Lord) are dragged into a quest to save Mardi Gras from drugged-up drag queen Moanie Bitchell and, also, commercialisation.

The highlight of the spectacle was the Leave Tony Alone parody video performed and recorded so perfectly by Jacob Grice. I swear there were real tears delivered with the line “Tony is just not well right now”. YouTube. Now.

The revue was at its best when the aggressively sexual content was coupled with a wider social, political or religious trope creating powerful, transgressive or entertaining sketches. Standout examples include the Drag Queen nun performance of Ave Maria, or the wonderful transit officer who breaks out into a noir monologue amid a smoke-machine cloud.

It wasn’t surprising that the nudity in this revue felt less like a gimmick and more like an obvious progression from the recurring gag, “How to Kill an Orgy”. After three failed orgy attempts (one with a clown participant, one with a sock puppet, and one with parents) the cast finally creates a wonderfully nude “group sex tableau” as a tactically cheesy song plays, “that’s how you have an orgy”.

Other sketches were sometimes lost to lack of polish and the dance numbers could have been tighter and more rehearsed. Occasionally strong premises fell flat from lack of development or low performance confidence.

Some sketches were directly written for a USyd audience, some exhibited heckle-bait puns but most of them punched up at the right people and created lots of energy on stage. Queer Revue could do with a buff and a polish but some moments found the gold at the end of the rainbow.