If you've seen some really good circus recently (Barbarois and Limbo come to mind), you will have seen better circus acts than you'll see in Velvet. This is not to say the Velvet circus acts are not good; they really are very good. They just aren't the main feature and so the show doesn't rely on them to be the main thing. The female aerialist is very good; the guy with the six pack who balances on things is very good; the chubby hula hoop guy who will be the crowd's favourite is also very good. These humans like you and me who do things that you and me can't do will never cease to amaze. But the feats you will see in Velvet are not the best you will ever see.
The disco soundtrack might, however, be one of the best you'll ever hear in a show like this. Disco doesn't get any better than tracks like Boogie Wonderland, Le Freak and If You Could Read My Mind. If the disco version of this last track was the greatest misinterpretation of a song ever (has a sadder song ever sounded more uplifting?), Brendan Maclean's interpretation of The Bee Gees' Stayin' Alive nailed the true spirit of the song so much better than the original. For all the fun and sexiness in this show, this version of this song was the highlight for me. Amongst all the glitz and glitter, here was honesty and raw emotion. Goosebump City, baby.
The Marcia Hines nostalgia trip didn't really do it for me, but credit where it's due, this woman is amazing. Timeless beauty, yes, but those vocals haven't aged either. She can belt out a tune bigger and better than the younger back-up singers who were stunning in their own right. Respect. She sang her biggest hits and the audience lapped it up. Many smiles on many faces and much chair dancing was done.
Marcia and the chubby hula hoop guy will be everyone's favourites. Hula hoop guy's joke was obvious as soon as he hit the stage, but his skill made up for the obviousness of what was about to happen. The apparent enjoyment he was getting out of performing was also infectious. Most of the humour throughout the show was of the ugly duck variety; awkward nerdiness or outsiderness giving way to impressive talent.
There seemed to be a narrative, of sorts, best shown in the I Feel Love sequence. It was a softcore bondage sequence ironically about liberation and acceptance, ideals possibly at the heart of the whole disco movement, and we hope still at the heart of the underground dance scene today.
More mainstream than edgy, Velvet is nevertheless a fun night out that will leave its audience feeling happy. I would see it again just for Stayin' Alive.
Organised Pandemonium presents
Director Craig Ilott
Venue: The Coopers Malthouse | 113 Sturt Street, Southbank
Dates: 23 March – 17 April 2016
Tickets: $49 – $89