It wouldn’t be a Midsumma Festival without a colourful musical offering that just sweeps you along with its fun and energy. You’ll get this from female vocal trio The Desperettes with their cabaret exploration of how gals might turn guys’ pickup tactics against them in A Guide to being a Wingman.
The three Desperettes – Daisy (Belinda Hanne Reid), DeeDee (Natasha York) and Delilah (Ashy Rose) – aren’t about to rigidly stick to traditional gender roles. In black suits and ties with pink beehive hairdos, they’re out looking for love, or maybe more short-term fun on a “quest to pick up the D”. The diversity of The Desperettes means this isn’t confined to being a straight musical adventure, and it also has some flirtation with adult themes.
Whilst the show was entertaining musically, with the critical hat on, the storyline could use some development. Don’t women only need to walk into a pub to pick up? Why do they need to learn the secrets of the wingman, for so long “guarded by hetero men”? A scene where two Desperettes tried to act as “wingmen” for the third trying to score with an audience member showed they weren’t so good at it. The clunky, overlong scene had too much repetition and virtually stalled the show’s momentum.
It might be that the show is a little cluttered with ideas that compete with each other for air time, such as lumpy spots on the trio’s personal history. However, when the show is more generally about the dating chase, Daisy, DeeDee and Delilah are on much more fertile comedic ground. The troupe earned good laughs with one-upwomanship on pickup lines and terminology, such as “cliterference” for the female equivalent of “cock-blocking”.
The three-part harmonies were a highlight as The Desperettes crisply covered a diverse range of tunes. They told their personal stories by putting their own lyrical slant on pop including Justin Timberlake and Beyoncé, and brought some extra attitude in rapping. I particularly enjoyed how the troupe outed themselves as music history nerds, giving us some more obscure tunes from artists such as Wilson Phillips and Jill Sobule.
The Desperettes have a potential that dwarfs even their imposing beehives. Their upcoming tours of various festivals will have good audience appeal. Should they refine their story to match the quality of their singing, I predict that they will be the Fringe Kings of 2018.
The Desperettes: A Guide to being a Wingman
Gasworks Arts Park, 21 Graham Street, Albert Park
Performance: Friday 27 January 2017 – 8.00pm
Season: 27 – 28 January 2017
Burt Memorial Hall, Cathedral Square, Perth (Fringe World)
Season: 13 – 18 February 2017
Information and Bookings: www.fringeworld.com.au
The Bally @ Gluttony, Rymill Park, East Terrace, Adelaide (Adelaide Fringe)
Season: 7 – 19 March 2017
Information and Bookings: www.adelaidefringe.com.au
Tasma Terrace, 4 Parliament Place, East Melbourne (Melbourne International Comedy Festival)
Season: 28 March – 22 April 2017
Information and Bookings: www.trybooking.com
For more information, visit: The Desperettes for details.
Image: The Desperettes (supplied)
Review: Jason Whyte