Going to a Bob Downe show at the Adelaide Fringe for me is like staple food. For those who are not quite sure what that means – staple food is food eaten routinely. If there’s one show I need to take in often – it’s Bob Downe.
What is it about Bob that I find so endearing? To be honest, I never tire of watching him. He’s been around for decades and was one of the first ‘Boys From Oz’ to take ‘camp’ to new heights and make it entertaining. He’s been performing at every Fringe Festival since 1986.
Bob just lights up the room the minute he walks on stage. His persona, charisma and over the top antics have been winning over audiences for years. This night was no different.
Backed by live band ‘Birthday Suits’, dressed in flared jeans and a flower shirt, his opening number had everybody cheering and clapping along before breaking into ‘one for Barnaby Joyce’ – Does Your Mother Know by ABBA. If you think his facial expressions and dancing style cracks you up, get ready for the patter in between his numbers – he just says it as it is.
He’s proud to say there was a time when he was the only gay in the village. Somehow now everybody seems to be gay and he’s considering going back to the closet – but afraid it’ll be crowded in there too. He also takes being mistaken for Ellen Degeneres and Sue Sylvester from Glee in his stride.
Bob’s shows are always full of sparkle and variety. You just never know what to expect or who will drop in. A pleasant surprise was iconic drag queen, Cindy Pastel – a legend from Sydney’s Oxford Street strip for 35 years – who the character of Mitzi from Priscilla Queen of the Desert was modelled on. Hilarious rapport between the two on stage and during their duets.
Another wonderful surprise was Hans dropping in as the waitress from a cocktail bar. He’s just as quick witted as Bob, and their chemistry flawless. Hans’s response to his wolf whistles from the audience was priceless – he just mouthed ‘I know’. Gold.
The night just kept getting funnier and funnier, that’s what makes this show a stand out, and why I keep coming back year after year. Next guest was the legendary Anne Wills. Now, I need to point out that nobody wears sequins like Willsy, and nobody has legs like hers either. Draped in a gold sequins with a mini underlay, there was some serious ‘leg envy’ going on that’s for sure.
People just love her, and she just never seems to age. Willsy and Bob’s strong friendship and admiration for each other just radiates between them and they bounce off each other really well. Absolutely loved their duet Something Stupid with sarcastic undertones thrown in after each line, this was a real show stopper.
It’s ironic how much Anne Wills is absolutely adored by the people of Adelaide. I have no idea why she’s not on local TV or radio, she’s a star and is being under utilised in this city. If only a media outlet could wake up and see the potential in using her in some capacity.
The encore was a treat – with extra on top. The Wills Sisters (Anne’s sister) joining in for the fun in dazzling costumes, playing up Hit The Road Jack with Willsy showing her comedic side and telling Bob to hurry up and “get off’. With a great selection of songs, audience interaction, top notch guests and more sequins than DK Fabrics, Bob is the Queen putting the fun back into the Desert.
Bob Downe’s 39th Birthday Bash
Fortuna Spiegeltent at The Garden of Unearthly Delights, Rundle Park, Adelaide
Performance: Tuesday 20 February 2018
For more information, visit: www.adelaidefringe.com.au for details.
Image: Bob Downe (supplied)
Review: Betty Samis – courtesy of All About Entertainment