Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Tuesday, 28 January 2014
Diamonds Are For Trevor, Jan 28, 2014 ****
By Trevor Ashley & Phil Scott Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne, to
Feb 2, 2014 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars: **** Review also published in Herald Sun online on Wed Jan 29, 2014 and in print. KH
Trevor Ashley in Diamonds Are For Trevor
With his huge singing voice,
glittering gowns and histrionic gestures, Trevor Ashley cunningly delivers both
a celebration and a parody of Shirley Bassey – sorry, Dame Shirley
Diamonds Are For Trevor is
another screamingly camp success for Ashley who makes a fine living singing in
drag, playing blousy women such as Edna Turnblad in Hairspray, or gay icons
including Bassey and Liza Minelli.
The show is titillating
and raunchy, funny and mischievous, extravagant and excessive.
Ashley’s depiction of glamorous
chanteuse, Bassey, combines acerbic and witty criticism of her egocentrism with
remarkably powerful vocal stylings that channel Shirley’s distinctive, rich
tone, idiosyncratic articulation, quirky vibrato and extensive repertoire of
Several of his renditions
of Bassey tunes leave the audience gaping in awe or clapping like seals at
his melodramatic endings
and phenomenal upper register.
The audacious Ashley
performs this opulent trash with pizazz, dressed in a parade of flamboyant,
lamé gowns (designed by Oscar nominee, Tim Chappel) that echo the sultry
sensuality of Bassey in her heyday.
The production, directed
deftly by Craig Ilott, is a representation of, and tribute to Bassey without being
strictly an impersonation although his over-the-top arm movements and
teeth-baring grin are pure parody.
vocal flexibilty and broad range, Ashley sings memorable versions of 18 Bassey hits
including Goldfinger, Never, Never, Never, This is My Life, History Repeating,
and an unforgettable version of Diamonds are Forever.
Then he almost
dislocates a hip doing a vigorous bump and grind as he belts out the outrageous
The script, written by
Ashley with collaborator, Phil Scott, is clever and provocative, with hilarious
gags and one unexpectedly poignant scene about Bassey’s daughter who suicided.
An accomplished 14-piece orchestra
led by conductor and piano player, Geoffrey Castles accompanies Ashley
If you love a bold, vivid
drag show with a touch of style, lashings of humour and some big, belting
Bassey tunes, Diamonds Are For Trevor is the show for you. He’s a gem – a
sparkly and ostentatious gem.