Sunday, 28 February 1999

Samantha Leith Made Up, 28 Feb 1999

at The Laundry 50 Johnston St Fitzroy until Sat Feb 6, 1999
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

When cosmetics become high art, culture has surely reached a low ebb. Samantha Leith's show works from the premise of "make-up as existentialism". Does anybody else feel faint?

In Samantha Leith Made Up, her solo show, cabaret chanteuse Leith literally places cosmetics front and centre. She spends most of her evening of song and banter seated behind a table littered with a cacophony of lip and eye liners, mascaras, gels, powders and foundations. Less is definitely not more for this gal. Leith has no intention of becoming a "cosmetic bulemic".

She is fine belter with a big voice and she is better known in Sydney. This show opens here during Midsumma Festival before going to Belvoir Street Theatre, Sydney during Mardi Gras. Leith's voice has been the theme song for the ABC coverage of Mardi Gras for two years.

While she trowels on the Ivory Bisque foundation she sings, ironically, numbers such as Bette Davis Eyes, Natural Woman, That's Why the Lady is a Tramp and Say a Little Prayer For You.

She reminisces about her childhood while singing Keep Young and Beautiful or Girl You'll Be a Woman Soon then bemoans working for Optus with Working Nine to Five and craves renown with When Will I, Will I Be Famous.

The show builds as she we wait as her character prepares to go on stage. She adds Big Hair which gives her a definite Drag Queen look and finally hits the dance floor with the first physical song, an 80's disco hit, Don't Go.

Leith is engaging and her singing is formidable but her patter, which craves editing, lets her down. She needs either better jokes or more acerbic commentary on cosmetics.

Her accompanist, Steven Ritchie, is a very skilful jazz pianist. He has taken over the Melbourne season this week since Leith's long-standing accompanist jumped ship to join the Navy. Really! Certainly a new slant on "Hello Sailor!"

The feature of the show is the songs. Leith is too inaccessible to us behind her table of cosmetics. Why not stand or at least sit on a high stool. It is too slow to build to its climax and the anticipated show within the show could be longer than a single song.


No comments:

Post a Comment