Celebrating bisexuality and exploring its challenges
The cast. Source: Melbourne Cabaret Website
The cabaret Baby Bi Bi Bi humorously explores the difficulties bisexuals face in a society full of misconceptions, while at the same time celebrating identity. The show ventures wide and far, pulling off crass humour and moving moments while communicating its message.
Three women take to the stage: Erin Pattison, Samantha Andrew and Annabel Larcombe. The main prop for the show is a closet, decorated with colourful stuffed genitalia. The show is musically driven, with music ranging from punk rock to Regina Spektoresque piano ballads. Some songs serve as upbeat platforms for the lyrics, whereas others are well-produced songs in their own right.
The music is broken up with a variety of different segments, the most frequently recurring being 'combos with Annabel Larcombe', introduced with a catchy vocal prelude similar to an advertisement. The strongest linking segment between songs might well be the three-tiered slam-poetry effort with all performers taking up a microphone and telling overlapping stories to create a collage of coming-out experiences.
Through the fast-paced entertainment, Baby Bi Bi Bi explores the bisexual experience. Different songs address the various misunderstandings different groups have towards bisexual women. For example, men might think it's attractive and an opportunity for a threesome; some bisexuals might think other bisexuals don't classify as 'bisexual'; and society as a whole might think it's a ploy for attention.
The songs deconstruct these misunderstandings and prejudices – for example, one song lists many more effective ways of gaining attention than who you sleep with. However, the songs also explore the restrictions these misunderstandings place upon bisexual individuals. We are shown that because of the lack of understanding, many may struggle to come out or sabotage relationships as they become serious.
The show could easily have become an exercise in resentment, but it manages to avoid it because of its humour. The laughs are achieved by the deliberate mismatch between the musical style and the lyrics, caricaturing, surprise, inappropriateness and, for the bisexuals among the audience, relatability. Even for those who aren't bisexual, the show provides an interesting insight into the experiences of bisexuals – experiences we might never have realised or thought about otherwise.