Tuesday, 13 October 1998

So Wet, 13 Oct 1998

By Samantha Bews 
At North Melbourne Town Hall Meeting Room
13-18 October, 1998
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Being cool usually ends up looking just plain silly. At least if you are  under 30 being cool, you have licence to look indulgent, ridiculous and idiotic in your platinum hair, skin-tight vinyl or arse-hugging lime-green mini.

The cool rules are: "Never dress for the weather"; "Always be more visible than the next idiot"; "Always look and sound as if you are just about to orgasm"; "Wear uncomfortable shoes"; and most importantly, "Pout! Pout! Pout!"

Fashion is intrinsic to Samantha Bews solo show, So Wet.It comments on the idiocy of fashion by being idiotically fashionable. In this stylishly performed short piece, directed with finesse by Nancy Black, we pursue a gloriously vain and leggy creature, with a fabulously cool wardrobe.

From midnight to 7am we scuttle after her from party, to depressed friend, to warehouse 'rave', to window-shopping then peculiar activities in Russell Street followed by late episodes of Bonanza tucked up with Horlicks in cottontails at home.

Bews struts and preens, poses and seduces as the profoundly shallow Shirley. She prances into a high-profile party to seduce a toy-boy, only to see him leave with another boy. Some episodes appear to be snatches from life but we hope the pretentious, selfish Shirley is not Bews' alter-ego.

This is definitely a good show for the Fringe Festival.However, its intended irony is not obvious enough and the character is sketchy. There is some clever lyrical text and Bews creates several well-observed cameos, but the intention of the play remains mirky and the narrative thin and directionless. The writing needs to develop the inner world of Shirley or to emphasising the latent tragedy of this tale of the night.

She is a polished performer who uses movement to create atmosphere, character and location. Shirley's regal parade around the first party accompanied by her bottom-wiggling and profiling is a treat. Bews' stylised interpretation of the "Dance. Dance. Sleaze. Sleaze,"of the warehouse party is simple but clever.

The much publicised fab outfits are made visible on stage by the simplest suggestions, shoes: a wardrobe of extraordinary platforms to make a 70's Glitter fan drool. Set on stage throughout, they suggest the silver dress, black mourning, the sweaty lime-green mini and blood red Geisha costume.

The men's lace-ups were discordant both on set and in their strange penultimate scene. Perhaps the intrinsically male violence perpetrated by Shirley at 5am, represents her naive attraction to the dark side, but it just does not work.

By Kate Herbert

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