Review | Carlotta revisits her past in ‘Queen of the Cross’

Carlotta: Queen of the Cross | Downstairs at the Maj | til Nov 16 | ★ ★ ½ 

Australian icon and LGBTQ+ legend Carlotta reflects back on life, love and Les Girls in her new cabaret show currently appearing Downstairs at the Maj.

The original cast member of the illustrious Les Girls drag showcase in Sydney’s King’s Cross, Carlotta returns to her cabaret roots as she sparkles on stage accompanied by the multi-talented Michael Griffiths, a piano and a bottle of champagne.

The room was filled with fans of the star who’ve been following her journey from the beginning. One woman had even seen Carlotta in Les Girls fifty years ago, while another remembered meeting her at the pharmacy in the Cross.

Carlotta knew exactly who she was playing to, playfully teasing her older audience members, regaling us with tales of drag of decades past, singing some classic cabaret tunes, and paying a beautiful tribute to Peter Allen with some outstanding assistance from Griffiths on the keys and the mic.

I couldn’t help but watch this pioneer of Australian LGBTIQ+ talent and visibility with reverence and awe, listening intently as she celebrated her achievements as the first transgender TV character ever on-screen, and recalled the adversity she had faced over the decades through story and song.

It was a shame though, that Carlotta seemed so unwilling to celebrate the great strides the LGBTIQ+ community has made since her time at Les Girls.

Quipping about young people not having to fight because she had already done it for them rightfully drew some cheers, but the accompanying rant about “political correctness gone mad” and cheap jokes about closeted audience members, transgender identities and the #MeToo movement just felt humourless and cruel.

Though Carlotta did declare she was ‘politically incorrect’, lamenting the loss of Australia’s ability to ‘laugh at each other’, she was often punching down – though it seemed most of the audience disagreed with me.

Queen of the Cross is cabaret in its truest form, and this show is built for long-time fans of Carlotta to share an intimate moment with an icon whose been part of their lives for years.

Carlotta: Queen of the Cross is Downstairs at the Maj until Sunday 16th November. Tickets and more information available from Perth Theatre Trust.

Leigh Andrew Hill

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