In a story of reversed racism, Blaque Showgirls is the most politically incorrect thing since Donald Trump! Disarming the audience with a Welcome to Country (that comes along with jest), it then invites the crowd to act as jury on the verdict of white-as-white Ginny Jones’ (Bessie Holland) desire to belong, to embrace her ‘inner black’ despite the colour of her skin.
Ginny, who has never found recognition in the little town of Chitole (pronounced Chit-ole), is disenchanted when her dance in an audition is met with jeers of ‘white chocolate’ and ‘inside out coconut’. She embarks on a quest to tread in her mother’s footsteps, a mother she has never known, and is convinced that her destiny lies with the Blaque Showgirls in Brisvegas.
Ginny hopes to offer freshness and newness in a place that takes ‘no uglies’, but must first contend with the formidable Chandon (Elaine Crombie) whose entrenched position as lead act in the Emu Dance feeds instant enmity, and with the shady Kyle (Guy Simon) whose hardly masked sexploitation offers Ginny her big break. She forges alliances with Molly (Emi Canavan) at the Sticky Kum Den and with True Love Interest (Guy Simon) at his lean-to at the beach, and finally realises her dream as a showgirl. But it is not without cost to her nature. Ostracised Ginny is a self and another: living inside/outside as a white skinned Indigenous girl. She seeks reinvention, but finds it in disingenuous ways.
Shrewd performances from a multi-persona cast, with rib cracking acts like the ‘Sorry, not sorry’ dance.
The show is riotous and resourceful, breaking the fourth wall with actors, human props and overhead tickers directly interacting with you. It escorts you to queer art, offering queer as a mode of perception, and using humour to explore concepts of identity, otherness and ambiguity. Charging at you from a perspective of engaging with difference, Blaque Showgirls denormalises your expectations by transposing structures of alienation.
The show is not a grim political act that commands solemn respect. But it is an entertaining spectacle that lauds the untraditional. It is an archetypal Nakkiah Lui black comedy where Lui, an Indigenous Australian writer and actor, adopts satire in her unique approach to reconciliation. Here she exposes truths and mistruths about racism.
Kudos to the cast, including director Sara Giles and the back stage creatives whose inputs captivate you with forms of difference.
Now showing at Malthouse Theatre until 4 December.
Photo credit: Pia Johnson
About Eugen Bacon
Eugen M. Bacon studied at Maritime Campus, less than two minutes walk from The Royal Observatory of the Greenwich Meridian. A computer graduate mentally re-engineered into creative writing, Eugen has a PhD in writing. She has published over 100 short stories and creative articles, and has in work a creative non-fiction book and a literary speculative novel. Her short stories are published in journals, magazines & anthologies worldwide. Eugen is editor of MELBOURNE Magazine and sub-editor of FICTION Magazine at The Australia Times.
Profile: View Eugen's profile here