AU ABROAD

Arts Review: “B-Girl” featuring iOTA and Blazey Best - Sydney Opera House (Performances to June 21st)

A theatrical concert is just the word to describe the newest experience from gender bending glam-rock God iOTA. B-Girl is not so much a musical as it is a rock concert, but because it is iOTA it works. His unique performance style, which carries through into the production, is what really stands out.

Returning to theatre once more, the award-winning star of Smoke & Mirrors, Hedwig and the Angry Inch and The Rocky Horror Show, has reunited with team Director Craig Ilott and co-star Blazey Best in bringing this entirely new production to life.

The story follows a troubled woman who feels trapped in the bleak reality of her life as a victim of domestic violence. This is Blazey Best’s character, who dresses in unfashionably ripped jeans and an ill-fitted tank top. She is already on-stage as the audience files in, slumped in an armchair, alone in a room. As the lights dim she walks slowly across the stage to switch on a lamp. The atmosphere is quiet.

Slowly musicians file on stage (who now remain onstage throughout the production) and with a burst of sound and light the magnificent iOTA appears haloed by a beam of blue light. In this role he is the ultimate rock star, conjured from the imagination of our troubled woman. In his giant platform heels Clifford North stalks confidently across the stage, belting out a rock anthem “B-Girl” and seemingly making efforts to hold eye contact with the audience. He is the complete opposite of his imaginer and his mere presence seems to make the stage so much larger than it was originally.

Once more his presence is immediately contrasted with that of our co-protagonist. There is very little dialogue within the production, with it often moving immediately from song to song, which once again reinforces that feeling of more concert than musical. There are interesting moments when iOTA pauses to address the audience and during these moments it’s not quite clear whether he is addressing Clifford’s imaginary audience or us directly as iOTA. Perhaps we are also Clifford’s imaginary audience. During one of these moments, which parallels with a critical moment in the storyline, iOTA/North pauses to discuss the notion and meaning behind the statement “freedom is another word for nothing left to lose” with us. He leaves us to question whether freedom is in fact our beings without any material possessions or perhaps something more.

As the story moves on things get a progressively darker. In one particularly poignant piece Clifford North tells us a story. A story or fable about a girl, a child and a heart, he says. In this story the little girl remembers the moment her beloved father takes her for her first swing in the park, and remembers the feeling of complete bliss. As Best joins in the retelling the story follows the young girl, who is now grown up and married. She grimly recounts the tale of her marriage, leading up to the moment when her husband takes his first swing. As iOTA and Best harmonize together the bleak reality of the situation through the “first swing” is made all to clear.

B-Girl is very much a unique experience, a theatrical concert as it is described. The rock style is constant and loud with very little moments of downtime, and which moments are elsewise filled with the bleak storyline. It is quite full on. The real stand out here though, as could be expected, is iOTA. It is a role that is so perfectly suited to his uniqueness and stage presence that I hardly feel the production could exist without him. And why would you want it to?

iOTA will be strutting his stuff in B-Girl at The Playhouse, Sydney Opera House, from 3rd - 21st June.

For more information visit http://www.sydneyoperahouse.com

The reviewer attended the performance on Friday the 5th of June at 7pm.