Fringe World Review: Velvet is a gloriously kitsch and utterly entertaining celebration of disco (Performances until 19th February)

Disco.

That most oft maligned of genres is given the celebration it rightly deserves thanks to the gloriously kitsch and utterly entertaining Velvet, which is a part of this year’s Fringe World in Perth.

Boasting the star power of music industry legend Marcia Hines within the cast list, Velvet is a joyful synthesis of disco and circus – one that never failed to delight during its 80 minute run time.

Whilst Hines might have been the draw card for many, this was a truly great ensemble performance with each of the nine cast members getting their chance to shine, show off their particular skill set, and their costumes (some more flattering (and revealing) than others).

There is something of a storyline at play throughout the show, albeit a subtle one. It opens with the arrival of Tom Oliver’s character, guitar in hand, looking suitably straitlaced (Mormonesque), and as the show unfolds so does his introduction to the wild hedonism and glamour of the disco world – a world he slowly gives over too – until by the end of the show he’s consumed by it.

Musically, the show was spot on, Hines, Oliver and singers Rechelle Mansour and Kaylah Attard all sounded fantastic as they ran through a soundtrack that was clearly recognisable to many – “Never Knew Love Like This Before”, “Raining Men” etc – but the highlight for me was Oliver’s rendition of The Bee Gee’s classic “Staying Alive” – performed solo on ukulele, it was so starkly different from the rest of the musical performances, it packed a real punch.

But Velvet isn’t just about the music. The show is also packed full of acrobatics, aerial stunts, and – well – hula-hoops. Right from the start you have German-born Mirko Kockenberger balancing on suitcases casually divesting himself of his clothes. Or there are  the impressive aerial skills of Emma Goh and Stephen Williams. And frankly I’ve never seen someone use hula-hoops quite like Craig Reid – and certainly never used whilst wearing an outfit possibly stolen from Olivia Newton-John’s wardrobe circa 1980s – albeit with added sequins.

And we shouldn’t forget Joe Accaria, who spends most of the show up high at the back of the stage, channelling his inner Daft Punk and looking as disco as possible – all whilst keeping the beat going.

Velvet is slick, fun, occasionally surprising (sex dungeon party anyone?) but most importantly it’s so completely entertaining. You couldn’t help leave the Spiegeltent with a smile on your face.

Velvet enjoys performances in the Spiegeltent at Fringe World in Perth until 19th February. For tickets and more details head HERE.

The reviewer attended the performance on 29th January.

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Simon Clark

Books Editor. An admirer of songs and reader of books. Simon has a PhD in English and Comparative Literature. All errant apostrophes are his own.

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