If you walk straight into this show without doing any research beforehand, you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve ended up at an amateur club night where a few of the fathers have got carried away and decided to get dressed up as women.
In fact what you are actually viewing is an act known as Le Sorelle Bandiera (The Flag Sisters) who were apparently a household name in Italy thirty years ago. Said to be the first gender benders on Italian television, the original trio consisted of Tito Le Duc, Mauro Bronchi and Perth born Neil Hansen.
They enjoyed enough fame that in 2008 a documentary was produced retracing the story of The Flag Sisters and their rise to fame. The documentary directed by Franco di Chiera won best documentary at the 2008 Roma Fiction Fest, Italy’s International TV festival.
Flyin’ High: The Sequel is in essence a revival tour consisting of two of the ‘surviving’ Flag Sisters and new recruit Ronnie van den Bergh (formal principal dancer with the WA Ballet) replacing Tito Le Duc.
The show opens with an introduction from the suave Italian cabin captain Graziano Sirci who soon sets the scene for the audience who become his passengers on a flight with Air Flag an airline that “takes budget flying to new lows, but gives new meaning to in-flight entertainment.”
Graziano is handsome, flirtatious and attentive informing his passengers how to “push his button.” Essentially he’s the narrator and provides a loose storyline encouraging the passengers to watch the in-flight entertainment which is the drag trio performing different sets.
The first set, the Bambino set, consisted of the trio performing child numbers such as Shirley Temples’ Good Ship Lollypop and left me wondering whether I could sit out the rest of the show. Perhaps they thought it was so silly it would be funny but to me it just didn’t gel and I’m sure good drag routines have some element of believability.
Thankfully from there the show got better featuring, as one audience member coined it, “old-school drag” routines such as Marilyn Monroe, Jessica Rabbit and Spanish flamenco.
Costumes were ornate and sparkly, certainly adding a bit of dazzle to the performance. Watching the male trio trying to dance in stilettos was certainly entertaining and as a woman made me feel quite snug that everyday we manage great feats in crazy heels – but I have to admit to some jealousy over their gorgeous streamlined legs! So I was not surprised later when I read that Neil Hansen was once known as “the redhead with the best legs in Europe.”
Audience interaction was good with house lights dimmed so that the cast could interact. On quite a few occasions I experienced sweaty palms as The Flag Sisters looked for their next passenger to drag up on stage or into the aisle for a dance. Graziano made one ladies’ night after he danced around with her half naked, finishing with a big smooch on the lips before he returned her to her seat.
Although I had my doubts about this show – a glance around the audience revealed that the majority of them were enjoying the spectacle and getting into the spirit of the evening. Perhaps this show is best suited to Perth’s Italian community who knew The Flag Sisters at the height of their fame and can appreciate their “old-school drag” charm.
The Flag Sisters in
Flyin’ High: The Sequel
Venue: Victoria Hall, 179 High St, Fremantle
Dates/Times: Tuesday 15 – Sunday 20 December, 8pm; matinee Saturday 19, 2pm
Tickets: $35 / $30 / $25
Bookings: (08) 9430 4771 or online www.deckchairtheatre.com.au