Photo – Conor Horgan
Standing alone on stage in Melbourne exactly a year ago, reigning (Drag) Queen of Ireland, Panti Bliss, gave Australia a nuptial nudge as she recounted the highs and lows of accidentally becoming the voice and face of the Irish Marriage Equality debate. Twelve months on and dressed as a gloriously glamourous ringmaster, Panti returns to our shores to celebrate our own move forward with a troupe of talented Celts that she, thankfully, has no interest in taming.
Tightly clad and tightly choreographed, Riot, created and directed by Jennifer Jennings & Phillip McMahon, delivers 90 minutes of joyously indulgent irreverence underpinned by calls to think beyond our current servings of politics, religion and social media.
While nostalgic pop and stiff-armed dance routines offer some self-deprecating nods to Emerald Isle cliché, Riot reminds us that Ireland is still a country rich in words, music and dance.
Ex Gaelic footballer (yes, really) Ronan Brady, skilfully performs aerial and Cyr wheel stunts wearing crowd pleasingly little as a quartet of singers (The Sirens) harmoniously deliver much of the evenings lilting soundtrack. Duos of absurd and comedic dancers (Lords of Strut & The Vaseline Diones) pay hilarious homage to Riverdance, the 80’s and even manage to take the evenings’ irreverence up a notch with an amusing audience participation ‘Lashing’ of blasphemy. Without drawing breath, street poet Kate Brennan delivers passionate renditions of Emmet Kirwan’s thought-provoking poetry adding a social commentary to the evening that feels as reflective of Australia as of Ireland.
Exclusively for the Melbourne season, a surprise local performer will take to the stage each night and punching home the more serious themes on opening night was the soulful, powerful and mesmerising Mojo Juju.
Men and women will no doubt marvel at Panti’s ability to remain vertical in astoundingly high heels but it is as a vocally dextrous social commentator that will secure her legacy and maintain some very impressive You Tube statistics. Panti - it’s fabulous to have you back!
Clever and occasionally quite bonkers – Riot is indeed a riot and well worth a high kicking jig to the box office.
Arts Centre Melbourne presents THISISPOPBABY’s
Created & Directed by Jennifer Jennings and Phillip McMahon
Venue: Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne
Dates: 31 January – 9 February 2018
Tickets: $89 – $30
Part of the 2018 Midsumma Festival