Review | Karen From Finance is Out Of Office

Karen from Finance is Out of Office | De Parel | Until 2 Feb | ★ ★ ★

Melbourne drag star Karen from Finance was catapulted into the international spotlight a few years back, after a couple of RuPaul’s Drag Race alums fell in love with her name – and the world rightfully followed suit.

Since her name was featured in Katya and Trixie Mattel’s cult web series UNHhhh, Karen has built an international fan-base, touring the world with her singular brand of office-themed drag and gags about the minutia of 9 to 5 life among the cubicles.

It would be a disservice to attribute Karen’s popularity to Katya and Trixie alone. Karen is an incredibly talented queen. I have seen her perform many times, joining Gendermess for a round of Mache a few years back, as part of Fringe World sensation YUMMY, and at club gigs across the country. Karen’s office-oriented, Australiana schtick shines when delivered in concentrated bursts, and I was excited to see what was in store for us with a full-length solo show.

Out of Office presents Karen as an extreme workaholic, absolutely destroyed by the notion of being forced to take leave from her over-extended duties in her nondescript workplace. Across the hour, Karen brings the audience on a cross-country adventure to get back to the office after a few mishaps found her waking up here in Perth without her phone or belongings.

The narrative structure of the show gives it direction, but it also seemed to restrict the performer. I know Karen is quick on a mic, and the rigid structure of this journey doesn’t allow her to play with the audience – as if I were watching a short film, rather than a spiegeltent spectacular.

As a now sentient Clippy (of Microsoft Office Suite fame) guides Karen on her hurried journey home, she shines when she cuts into a lip-sync(h) number and shows off just how gloriously silly she can be, and this show certainly could have benefited from more of these moments.

Out of Office is, however, a wonderfully light-hearted celebration of drag, and I’m sure Karen will be giving herself a performance review and working towards that promotion she rightfully deserves.

See Karen from Finance is Out of Office until 2nd February.

Leigh Andrew Hill is an editor at OUTinPerth, with a BA from the University of Western Australia in Media Studies & History of Art. Since 2005, Leigh has studied and practiced journalism, film-making, script-writing, language, contemporary performance and visual arts. Leigh is also a freelancer writer, and producer and presenter on RTRFM 92.1.

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