In Vanity Bites Back, Helen Duff creates a character who is absolutely bonkers, in the most brilliant and entertaining way.
Before beginning her pilot cooking show, Duff’s character, Jill played the perfect host, offering a bikkie to each member of the audience and engaging people with her improvised wit. With respectful interaction, she picked out several audience members that she could cleverly refer back to over the course of the show.
Jill’s appearance perhaps mirrored her state of mind. Underneath her apron, her petit figure was framed by the perfect 1950s housewife dress, her mass of curly red hair clipped up neatly atop her head, with just a few strands bursting to be free, somewhat like the monsters haunting her internal dialogue.
I am hesitant to give away too much of the plot because her actions are so hilariously out of context and character, that I want you to be as gobsmacked as I was. By the time the narrative has concluded, all of the mad cap antics along the way make complete sense and that is due to the outstanding script planning and direction (Holly Stoppit) of the piece.
Credit must go to Duff for writing one of the most realistic interpretations of a mental illness (its symptoms and its consequences), and performing it in a way that is so disarming and endearing.
The seriousness of it all snuck up on me and I was completely blindsided by the explosion of empathy and emotion I experienced at the climax of the piece.
Vanity Bites Back is a very subtle Black Comedy. Go for the bikkies, stay for the laughs, leave with the warm glow of a perfectly baked cheesecake.
2016 Perth Fringe World Festival
Vanity Bites Back
Venue: Noodle Palace @ Central | 19 Francis St Northbridge, WA
Dates: 10 – 20 February 2016
Tickets: from $18