FRINGEWORLD 2017 – VELVET (3.5 stars)

Review by Laura Money

You’ve never known love like this before – VELVET transports Perth to the groovy 70s and the iconic locales of disco – Studio 54, The Savoy etc. The West Australian Speigeltent becomes a portal to Funky-Town as you experience the glitz, the glamour, the sequins, and the disco balls of that magically sparkly era – complete with an authentic 70s star.

It’s a silent tale, there is no dialogue – the soundtrack is provided by the Gods and Goddesses of the 70s: Chic, The BeeGees, Donna Summers, and of course Marcia Hines. Tom Oliver plays the stiff and repressed, suited young man who finds himself drawn to the world of disco, led by percussion master Joe Accaria. Around him are circus performers galore – acrobat Mirko Kockenberger gives us the first taste of circus with a charming-yet-death-defying balancing act on stacked suitcases. Dressed as a bell-hop, he exudes cheeky charm and elicits more than one gasp from the crowd. There’s classic, graceful aerial work from the amazing Emma Goh, and Stephen Williams is every bit the bad boy in his leather jacket. Craig Reid steals the show with his rendition of a daggy hula-hoop routine that becomes spectacular. His tongue-in-cheek exercise outfit (alluding to the early days of the 80s) creates a roguish persona that follows him throughout the show.

Hines and Oliver are the main singers, with backing vocals by the wonderfully talented Kayla Attad and Rachelle Mansour. The young Oliver cannot escape the inexorable pull of disco, and under mentor figure Hines, they blaze a trail of glitz and glamour. Hines is treated with an absolute reverence by her fellow cast-members. She stays still for most of her performances, a fragile being with a voice that is so clear and flawless that her lack of movement can be forgiven. When the crowd cheer her just for stepping on stage, she gives a faint smile of bemused acknowledgement and then it’s all business! Hines has a look of unadulterated pride when she hears the younger performers sing, and you know that she is a true teacher and mentor to this crew.

There are some weird moments that seem to send up the era a little, but mostly VELVET embraces the camp, queer and cool features that define the disco era of the 70s. So, ‘Turn the Beat Around’ and let it start ‘Raining Men’, because all ‘You’ need is to show up and start groovin’!


When: 20th January – 19th February 2017 | 4:30pm & 7:00pm

Where: The West Australian Speigeltent | The Pleasure Garden | PERTH

Tickets: $36 – $86

Info: Duration 80 minutes | Suitable 18+