A Fringe festival gives the curious audience a chance to see something out of the ordinary. You’ll certainly get that in The Super Queer Murderess Show, a work combining historical accounts of women rebelling against their times with some outstanding music.
With just a quick change of costume or accent, Luisa Hastings Edge was the conduit for a variety of female characters summoned from across hundreds of years of history. These women, repressed just for their gender or status, struck against conventions or interference in their relationships with some violent act.
The collection of stories shared a spectrum of tints and shades of Queer women. These included a 16th-century Hungarian Countess with a ghoulish beauty routine, and a playwright frustrated at being relegated to Andy Warhol’s cloud of supplicants. The accounts held such dark intrigue that it was a little unfortunate they weren’t listed in the show’s programme so that we may find out more.
The show had as much musical interest as it had historical. Hastings Edge could glide from powerful to delicate in the songs accompanying a tale. These drew on offerings such as those from Barbra Streisand, Kylie Minogue, Tears for Fears and Nirvana.
Accompanied by Musical Director Nate Gilkes, the pair showed a particular talent in their compelling reimaginings of tunes, and skill at blending them together in surprising ways. At times songs were filtered into a concoction of ghostly cool worthy of the second coming of Trip Hop. Gilkes, on keyboards, violin, and some sort of guitar neck with horn attached, showed good control and variation in his accompaniment and varied backing vocals.
Whilst the musical quality was obvious, plenty of small touches contributed to the story-telling whole. Deft work by Lighting Designer Siobhain Geaney and Costume Designer Matilda Woodroofe gave us an efficient way of acclimatising to the setting of a new story. Under Cathy Hunt’s direction, the performance moved fluently between the collection of characters, shifting with poise from eerie moments to times where descriptions of violence had an unexpected levity.
The Super Queer Murderess Show certainly deserves all of its adjectives. It combined a certain macabre appeal with an unusually high level of polish for a Fringe offering. For the sake of Melbourne audiences, let’s hope that, like the characters therein, the show will be exhumed to confound and delight again sometime in the near future.
The Super Queer Murderess Show
Warehouse – Arts House, 521 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne
Performance: Friday 29 September 2017 – 7.30pm
Season: 23 – 30 September 2017
Image: Luisa Hastings Edge – photo by Pier Carthew Photography
Review: Jason Whyte