Review | Open your heart to ‘Madonna: The Diva, The Icon, The Circus’

Madonna: The Diva, The Icon, The Circus | State Theatre Centre of WA | til 21st Jan | ★ ★ ★ ★  

Tempting audiences with the sultry opening lines of Madonna’s Girl Gone Wild, the disembodied voice of Madonna breathes the introductory prayer from her 2012 dance smash to the audience at the State Theatre Centre Underground.

“Oh my God,” she repeats, a phrase I heard many times from the audience (as well as my own lips) throughout BarbieQ and Kinetica’s latest tribute to the Queen of Pop.

Perth drag sensation BarbieQ and local circus specialists Kinetica have become close collaborators, and their Madonna-themed circus/drag fusions have become a favourite on the local Fringe circuit. Emerging from behind the curtains as a statuesque, glamorous Madge-facsimile, flanked by charming dancers, BarbieQ and the team launch into a high-energy dance number to Girl Gone Wild and set the scene for The Diva and The Icon.

Next comes The Circus, as throughout the evening the talented cast of Kinetica each take their turn on the stage. As soloists and groups, the acrobats each interpret some of Madonna’s biggest hits (and even some more obscure references). Highlights included Rebecca Mason setting sail with Cherish, taking to the skies on an aerial anchor while mermaids and beach-goers fill the stage around her and take us to the beach, contortionist Sarah Ritchie’s shockingly twisted performance to Illuminati and Matthew Pope’s high-camp aerial performance to Hung Up, decked out in the electric pinks and blues that have become synonymous with the 2005 comeback hit.

As each circus act unfolds, BarbieQ performs the number as Madge, complete with costume changes to dazzle. Q provides a visual accompaniment to Madonna’s hits, and sometimes steals the show – which proved a little challenging with the vast stage of the Theatre Underground; I couldn’t decide where to look!

While the circus stars shine, BarbieQ’s solo numbers match their skills in talent and stage presence. A surprisingly delicate rendition of Don’t Cry For Me Argentina, backed by the boys of Kinetica was a total show stopper, and very special guest star Britney Spears (drag star Alexas Armstrong, who returns as circus/boylesque favourite Karl Kayoss) made a welcome cameo for a sexy collaboration on Me Against The Music.

Speaking of sexy, the absolute stand-out of the show would have to be Erotica, bringing a balance between circus and drag with Barbie and Karl in a sultry and sensational number.

Having seen previous iterations of Barbie and Kinetica’s Madonna-themed collaborations, I did feel there was a little something missing from The Diva, The Icon, The Circus. BarbieQ is an absolute riot on a microphone, and I would have loved to have heard some anecdotes about her love for Madonna, or why she’d chosen these particular Madge hits; though I understand time may not permit, or that it could have broken the illusion of a wild Madonna concert the team had so carefully curated.

For fans of Madonna, drag, circus or just the wonderful world of Fringe; this show is an absolute must. Holding true to Madonna’s own mantra of “express yourself, don’t repress yourself,” Madonna: The Diva, The Icon, The Circus is a joyful celebration of one of music’s most controversial and beloved icons.

See Madonna: The Diva, The Icon, The Circus until Thursday 21st January. For tickets and more information, head to fringeworld.com.au

Leigh Andrew Hill is an editor at OUTinPerth, with a BA from the University of Western Australia in Media Studies & Art History. 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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