. Barbara and The Camp Dogs is currently showing at the Billie Brown Theatre in South Brisbane. Queensland Theatres 3rd show this year is a moving yet fun production by Belvoir. This rocking play sold out in Sydney and Brisbane will surely be singing its praises well after the final curtain call on the 25th of May.
Barbara (Ursula Yovich) and her sister Rene (Elaine Crombie) are DIVAS, their glorious voices fill any stage, pub or heart. Barbara has her rock band The Camp Dogs (Sorcha Albuquerque on Guitar, Jessica Dunn on Bass and Michelle Vincent on Drums), and Rene's gigs differ slightly, less rock and more, bouffant hair wig, pink cardigan and a sprinkle of dramatic flair. They are both incredible singers, and together they are deadly!
When a family member is hospitalised, they set out on a rock n roll road trip for the ages. Gigging their way through financial and emotional obstacles to be bedside and present for the woman who raised and loved them both.
I loved so many aspects of this play. The relationship between the two sisters and their individual complexities were brilliantly written. Barbara is the epitome of built up pain and anger. Her shields are irresponsible and wild behaviour, and her saving grace is music. She navigates through her stormy emotions with the help of angry rock and heartbreaking ballads. Rene has the patience of a saint with the mouth of a trucker. She is loyal to a fault, continuously forgiving Barbara who seldom deserves it. The sisters hilariously bickering throughout their journey is PER-FECTION!
Yovich and Crombie leave everything on that stage. Effortlessly, they wore every one of their characters gut-wrenching scars. The pain of abandonment and cutting comments. The rawness of theft felt by our indigenous people is represented in such a way it's palpable. They are also incredibly funny. Their razor-sharp tongues are equally matched, they don't miss a musical or comedic beat. I found Troy Brady's (Joseph) stoic performance to be powerful. His stillness makes you lean in closer and pay attention.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the stage. I guarantee you have seen it before. Think back to tipsier days. Remember that crusty pub? The one with beer-soaked floors, the barstools and high tables (that all petite gals intensely dislike) with that sofa – you know the one? It's sprayed with sweat freshener. It's a hark back to every old pub you have ever been to. The beauty of the set design is you feel like you really are at a pub watching Barbara and The Camp Dogs.
The script was written by Ursula Yovich and Alana Valentine It's has everything - comedy, drama, suspense and heart. The storyline jams in so much that you may be in danger of catching real feels.
The music is loud, fun and energetic. It also transmits the anger or anguish and then smooths it over preparing you for more. The lyrics are clever, catchy and strong. Take tissues, and prepare for the best pub night you will have in ages!
I witnessed their opening night's standing ovation, it was AMAZING, is time to gather your friends.
Directed by Leticia Cáceres
Cast Includes Troy Brady, Elaine Crombie, Ursula Yovich
Barbara Understudy Shakira Clanton
Set Designer Stephen Curtis
Costume Designer Chloe Greaves
Lighting Designer Karen Norris
Sound Designer Steve Toulmin
Musical Rehearsal Director Adm Ventoura
Musicians Sorcha Albuquerque (Guitar), Jessica Dunn (Bass Guitar), Michelle Vincent (Drums)
Warning Contains adult themes, strong coarse language and haze.