Cabaret: Yummy

Yummy is like regurgitating your favourite meal, despite having no memory of consuming it. A glamorous hurricane wreaking destruction and smiting the boring. A world where phantom knives appear and menace the unwary. Where you might make a human sandwich with mayonnaise ejaculate. Yummy is a wild glittering beast from the far beyond.

Directed by James Welsby – Yummy is a celebration of cabaret, drag, dance and song. Their shows have steadily grown in cachet and polish to become their own unique brand of fabulous. Cabaret has long been one of the most trusted vehicles for converting the subversive to the sublime and this is no exception. Underneath the Spiegeltent, a touchstone of Melbourne’s deep rooted arts community, Yummy reinvigorates and explores what it means to be a modern cabaret. With the prominent drag artist “Karen from Finance” leading as the Master of Ceremonies the show rattles a roller coaster of mood and tone.

While the cabaret format will feel recognisable, the acts are sure to get your pulse quickening. The nostalgia of being a child at the circus goes to war with overt sexuality. Comedic routines follow performances that are not unlike contemporary dance pieces. The serious and genuine contrasted by the self-deprecating and frivolous.

To view Yummy is to take a contemporary look at drag and cabaret. The modern day is chaotic but pretends to be simple. The TV fluctuates from fast food companies teaching you about acceptance and self-love and suddenly you’re watching beheadings. You are signed into a multitude of social networks that know you and your demographic better than your several hundred “friends”. People have their hair bleached to grow the colour back out. Vegetables are washed and then sold with soil applied to make them look like rustic. Everything is trying to appear genuine and artifice rules. But how does Yummy critique modern?

Many will be familiar with Cabaret, the 1972 flick starring Liza Minelli and earning her an Academy Award. It takes place during the creeping Nazi presence in 1930’s Germany with underground performances used as a way to parody the oppression and make light in dark places. There is a reason that this film is one of the most ubiquitous understandings of the art of cabaret. It hones in on the way that art and comedy can be used to turn evil into elation. While we may not be spending our daily lives fearing the growing reality of occupation by a malevolent war machine, something wicked this way comes. Despite the confusion and horror, in the world of Cabaret they create a space unashamedly free from rules. The fake is celebrated and the real abandoned at the door.

The world as it stands now is more like a funhouse mirror. Things we thought were impossible have come to pass. A world where with the sum of human knowledge at your fingertips, you’re still bored and watching cat videos. An age of connectedness that results in more isolation. While Yummy is careful not to comment too directly on anything it smartly will engage and play with tragedy and dichotomy. It’s very aesthetic is a clown on a runway.

Drag is utilised consistently throughout the show, however this is no Rupaul’s Drag Race squirrel friends. The charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent here are a world away from lip-syncs and pageants.  The best and worst of fashion is dramatically recycled to give life to extreme, and erotic looks. From 90’s trash to BDSM inspired get ups. Even the female performers are dipped in drag and disco before exerting themselves for your viewing pleasure. The faces are beat and the queens are not afraid to get ugly and stunning. What more suitable addition to cabaret than drag? The act of the transformation of man to fully-fledged glamazon is one of the most demonstrative ways the show thumbs it’s nose at sensibility.

Yummy is a show that is a brilliant contrast to how we live. It’s a place where the topsy-turvy nature of life is embraced. Where there is no pretending that anything is real or genuine. Injustice and terror are a world away when the curtain draw back and you are transported through the looking glass. The costumes, the makeup, the settings, all of it is false, gritty and dazzling. Theatre usually requires one to suspend disbelief, but drag and cabaret invite the critique. You have no expectations thrust upon you. Spit or swallow, it’s up to you.

Score: 8/10


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