Tits up, girls! Follow me. The most outrageous show in Sydney is here for a limited time, but you’ve gotta be in the know. Just take a turn out of Kings Cross, and high-kick your way down to that little theatre in the former horse stables. In there you’ll find a portal to the bright lights of Brisvegas – as reflected through the funhouse-mirror imagination of one of the country’s most cunning writers, Nakkiah Lui (Black is the New White; Black Comedy).
From the moment the spotlight illuminates the first performer, you might think you’ve stumbled into a high-end drag-burlesque show – with the head bitch of the Blaque Showgirls, Chandon (Jonathan Jeffrey), voguing the house down with a rapturous dance devoted to the sacred “bin chicken”. But, friends, this is proper theatre – and it only gets more silly and surprisingly solemn as it goes on.
[Blaque Showgirls is] so silly, so full of heart and so poignantly honest.
Taking inspiration from the so-bad-it's-good raunchy cinematic masterpiece Showgirls, this farcical play is built on the foundation of Lui’s trademark mix of wit, social commentary and balls-to-the-wall silliness – with a throughline of First Nations pride.
Stephanie Somerville (Chalkface, The Bleeding Tree) leads the all-Indigenous cast as fair-skinned dance enthusiast Sarah Jane Jones. When the naive Sarah gets a whiff of evidence of her Indigenous ancestry, she high-tails it to the glitziest casino in Brisvegas. Her mission? To land a role in the First Nations burlesque spectacular – “Blaque Showgirls” – by any means necessary. Along the way she meets a suspiciously inauthentic Irish delivery cyclist and becomes embroiled in the problematic cut-throat power struggles behind the shiny veneer of the Blaque Showgirls, as well as an erotic pansexual love triangle (or possibly a love hexagon?).
The whole affair is dripping in satire and smattered with a sparkling sprinkle of surreal gags and double-entendres – with heart-wrenching moments of social critique and cathartic expressions of anger that will take you by surprise, and perhaps, light a fire inside you. Does it work? Yes. It all comes together in a wildly entertaining all-killer, no-filler, 90-minute one-act package.
On the surface, it's deceptively simple. The sequin-coated dance routines and stupid jokes would fit right in at an adults-only Rock Eisteddfod reunion. But Blaque Showgirls also tackles difficult questions and provokes important conversations. Under the stewardship of co-directors Shari Sebbens and Ursula Yovich, two of the most highly regarded Indigenous women in Australian theatre, you’re in safe hands.
What a joy it is to see such a ridiculously talented and charismatic collective of people come together to make a show so silly, so full of heart and so poignantly honest.
Gather your friends and coordinate some sparkly outfits for a night out at Griffin's SBW Stables Theatre. Order a signature ‘Pink Nips’ cocktail at the theatre bar (it’ll make sense during the show), and purchase some dollar-for-dollar “Blaque Bucks” to “make it rain” at the end of the show (all proceeds go to essential First Nations charities). Chase your theatrical outing with a nightclub boogie. Maybe even pash someone that you shouldn’t, go on. And if you’re a white girl like this writer, make some room for the women who have had to fight the battles that you have not.
Strap in. Blaque Showgirls just had its season extended. It plays at SBW Stables Theatre, Kings Cross, from September 4 to October 21. Tickets range from $38-$62 (or $20 Monday Rush) and you can snap them up over here.