Dr Gemma Regan
I'm a writer, arts reviewer, a scientist, a UFO researcher and a Radio host for 4ZZZ 102.1FM with my show The Witching Hour exploring the paranormal, conspiracy and the esoteric. www.4zzzfm.org.au/program/the-witching-hour
A confrontational & hilarious award-winning touring musical
The confrontational and hilarious award-winning touring musical, Barbara and the Camp Dogs, hit the Billie Brown theatre with a smash this week. Part rock gig and part bikie road-trip, the show explores the lives of two angry Aboriginal women who are full of attitude. When they visit their dying mother back in Katherine, their homeland, they are confronted by hollow memories, remorse, and sorrow.
The Queensland Theatre's Billie Brown stage had been transformed into a salubrious bar, complete with velvet lounge chairs and bar stools. Centre stage the was the Camp Dogs (or should it have been the Camp Bitches?): a funky female house band of bass, guitar, and drums (Sorcha Albuquerque, Michelle Vincent and Jessica Dunn). The stage was set for a wild opening night in the packed theatre and boy was it a ride!
The bolshy and opinionated Barbara, played brilliantly by Ursula Yovisch, strutted around the stage like an angry pitbull whilst belting out her own original rock songs composed with her co-writer Alana Valentine and songwriter and musical director Adm Ventoura. Barbara commanded the stage and demanded the attention of all, only willing to concede when her equally tough and voluptuous elder sister René (Elaine Crombie) took command. The two characters were both hilarious and terrifying, approaching audience members with simultaneous offers of sex or violence, depending on their mood. During one evocative song, René was grinding spreadeagled on the lap of a startled male in the front row to the raucous laughter of the audience.
Part-musical, the girls and band guide the audience through a moving sequence of the girls singing for not only their supper, but for enough money to reach their dying mother on the other side of Australia. Full of vulgarity and overt sexuality the pair sing, fight, and screw their way to Katherine in a series of gigs and fights. One of the best lines I've ever heard "…you been pounding that mulga bush of yours into spinifex," sums up the vulgar hilarity of the two feisty girls.
However, the play becomes much darker as it progresses when the ramifications of the stolen generation and the stolen identity of Australia's original people is explored. Barbara exclaims "You hate us 'cause we're black or pity us 'cause we're black, which is worse?" Barbara is reunited with her estranged brother Joseph (Troy Jungaji Brady), as the play transitions into a moving and thought provoking journey of two women struggling with their difficult lives and the poorer outlook of many Aboriginal people.
The show was poignant, hilarious, and disturbing, ending with a standing ovation from the audience. A rousing musical encore from Barbara, René and Joseph and an impromptu tribal dance was further cheered, leaving the audience on a tenuous high. Barbara and René are spectacular in their roles, "owning" both their characters and the stage, in a controversial Aussie musical journey you will not forget!
Don't miss the opportunity to see this adult award-winning production from the Sydney Belvoire theatre company on at the Billie Brown theatre until the 25th May.