It is very hard to write meaningfully about a show when the cast is not listed individually in The Fringe brochure, nor on a leaflet on tables at the Ellington Jazz Club or even announced from the stage. The premise of this show is a promising one. “The Ruby Red Fatales have one mission: slink, sex then slaughter. Set in Paris, 1943, at the height of World War 2, Ruby Red Fatales is the story of insatiable show-girl snipers assigned to murder key Nazi operatives.”
Three beautifully costumed burlesque ladies took to the stage and demonstrated moves that were indeed alluring. The blonde singer launched into a song about their ruthless approach to their anti-Nazi escapades. She could certainly sell a song but unfortunately all the stage mics or the sound desk seemed to be beset by problems. Most of the original lyrics penned for this show were rendered indecipherable. The Ellington is a jazz club founded by and for musicians, I have never experienced sound problems or issues of clarity there before.
Enter the burlesque director in a dressing gown, probably given his profession, a late riser, to motivate the girls to up the Nazi target list.
A modestly clad ingénue approaches, she would like to join the troupe of “sexy killing machines.” She passes the director’s questioning test and becomes one of the girls.
We next see her clad in a puzzling ensemble of large glittery black bra and a puffy black half petticoat hoisted up over her stomach. It is in this array that we see her first encounter with a German soldier, supposedly her initial victim, Titties, the performance name the director has decreed, falls gently for the gormless Jorgen. This was a lovely piece of character acting by whoever was playing Jorgen. Assuming an extraordinary haircut, number 1 all around the head but crowned on top with a bun-like cap of hair, he moved seamlessly from foolish romantic to fondly admiring Hitler fan.
It is extraordinarily difficult to compose a song. The originals in this show suffered from the pop culture phenomenon of the too long repetitive refrain, when a short sharp snappy verbal assault would have suited the alleged 1943 setting far better. “There’s No Better Time to Fall in Love than in a War” was witty and echoed sentiments I’ve heard from performers like Stefane Grappelli who played through the London blitz at the Ritz Hotel. Inherent danger makes for exceptionally passionate times.
Ruby the feisty, sharp tongued show girl berates the ingénue. Killing Nazis is the mission, not falling in love with them.
There is some funny absurd Pythonesque interaction between the German soldiers as they decide whether to go to the Ruby Red Fatales and also a very amusing shoot out scene where various characters reveal their true allegiances.
This was a promising theatre workshop which needed to sharpen up and needed a stronger directorial hand.
Surprisingly, it was announced as a preview, no mention of this in the Fringe programme.
Hopefully it will tighten up for the run.
Paper Haus Theatre Co presents
The Ruby Red Fatales
Venue: The Ellington Jazz Club | 191 Beaufort St, Perth WA
Dates: 12 –13 & 15 – 16 February 2016
Tickets: $20 – $25