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Review | Dark Ritual – Carla Lippis

Entering the Dress Circle Bar on the top floor of His Majesty’s Theatre, the room had been transformed into an intimate cabaret space. Candlelight glows on the round tables in the dim light, as two men dressed in bolo ties and loosely-fitting cream suits strum thoughtfully at their electric guitars.

Emerging from the crowd to take her place before the deep red curtains upon the stage, it is immediately understood why Carla Lippis describes herself as the Satanic Liza Minnelli. With a short, cropped black bob, Lippis is decked out in black and white with a blood red rose, as if Judy had raised Liza with a Z in David Lynch’s Black Lodge.

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As a devoted fan of Lynch’s surreal series Twin Peaks, I am conscious it doesn’t take much more than a pair of red curtains for me to brand something as ‘Lynchian’. Fortunately for me, this time I was on the money.

As Carla welcomes us to take part in her dark ritual, she sets the scene by spinning the tale of The Wizard of Oz on its head. In Carla’s story, Dorothy is a femme fatale, setting out to find the gnarled, dangerous wizard at the end of the black tar road.

The story unfolds like a gritty American road movie, as Dorothy winds her way through diners and cabaret bars to find her companions, with Carla making sly nods to the works of Lynch and Tarantino – Pulp Fiction, Blue Velvet and indeed, Twin Peaks.

The tribute continues as Carla blends the iconic songs from these films with her own original music for a fantastic set at The Maj. She has exquisitely reinterpreted these iconic soundtracks in her own beautifully sombre style. Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Sycamore Trees from Twin Peaks, Nick Cave’s Red Right Hand and Roy Orbison’s In Dreams all get the Dark Ritual treatment – I’m sure I also heard the opening riffs of PJ Harvey’s Rid Of Me before the grand finale.

Dark Ritual is a deeply absorbing performance, as Carla cleverly reworks Dorothy’s story into a thrilling tale of girl gangs, dive bars and sweet revenge set to a perfectly curated and gorgeously performed soundtrack. Don’t miss your chance to spend a night with Carla Lippis in her very own Roadhouse.

Dark Ritual – Carla Lippis has one more show tonight as part of Perth International Cabaret Festival. Head to perthcabaret.com.au for more.

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