Picture a writhing figure in a clear, plastic body bag; blonde matted hair poking out from the sides and face distorted with blood, vaguely resembling the likes of Twin Peaks’ Laura Palmer. Now picture a fabulous man dressed in drag, dancing around in sexy lingerie and a white, unbuttoned shirt resembling the likes of Pulp Fiction’s Mia Wallace. Now try to imagine a clown, but not just any clown, another sassy cross-dresser clown in a revealing Christmas costume with a horrifying resemblance to Pennywise from Stephen King’s ‘It’.
I know, it’s a lot to take in.
These are just few of the haunting yet oh-so-entertaining and intriguing characters that Adelaide Fringe Festival‘s Cult is bringing to the stage this year. This part nightclub, part queer cabaret performance brings humour and horror together as one, offering the ultimate night of uncertain giggles and questionable sexual attraction.
Talented director Geoffrey Masters spoke with us prior to the opening show, explaining the inspiration behind his chilling masterpiece. “It’s really just a little bit of me wanting to live down memory lane,” he says, “There’s some classic films from our childhood in there; some really resonating memories.”
“I’m also quite the horror buff, so the show has a slight inclination to go a little bit twisted every now and then… There’s definitely some black humour in there.”
Pulp Fiction’s Mia Wallace, camp version.
Geoffrey decided a part-nightclub part-show ordeal would be a great way to get interactive with the audience; a creative endeavour the director has pulled off quite successfully. “Part of it is linking to that prominent drinking culture of the Fringe, looking at all these places like The Garden, Royal Croquet Club, Gluttony etc,” describes Geoffrey, “Cult shows you can do the same thing by getting your drink on inside a show, not just outside of it!”
Expect to see impersonations of characters from cult classics such as Beetlejuice, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion, Carrie, Psycho, The Birds and so much more. Even Disney’s Bambi gets a little reference! And each character’s representation has been completed with the most elaborate and unique costumes from Melbourne costume company, Rose Chong.
The Adelaidian attended Cult’s opening show last Saturday night held in The Umbrella Revolution of The Garden of Unearthly Delights. We wandered into the tight-knit tent and took our seats on the central bleachers in the front row. With a bar to our left, some tables and chairs surrounding three separate stages and some standing space as well, it was quite a clever set up for a half-club half-show night.
Mystical, sparkly beings.
The night started off with mystical sparkling morph-suit beings arising from the corners of the dark room, twisting and turning in fabulously glittering yet creepy manner. Dim lights shone spotlight on a stage to the left, highlighting a writhing, bloodied figure in a body bag, one of which would be our first cult character, Laura Palmer of Twin Peaks.
Laura Palmer was not all that disturbing though, after a little bit of struggling about on stage, she ripped free of her body bag and proceeded to wow the audience with a stunning pole performance (even though she was still kind of twitching in agony).
What was disturbing was when Cult’s scary clown Pennywise popped out from underneath our feet on the bleachers, similar to the drain scene with the kid in Stephen King’s It. I almost screamed, until the character started belting out some seductive dance moves and lipsyncing to a cheerful ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You.’
A sexy (yet still creepy) Pennywise performs to unsuspecting and slightly unnerved auience.
Not only were there superb dancing acts, Cult encompassed a whole lot of impressive circus and acrobatic performances, as well as some singing acts and just a general selection of varietal camp entertainment – some probably not for the faint-hearted!
We’d go back again, and again, and again, seeing as the acts change every single night. It’s like a lucky dip each time, experiencing something new and riveting in the world of cult classics.
Be sure to see the show at least once this Fringe season; get dressed up, bring your mates and hop onto social media as pictures and videos are allowed to be taken at the show! Take your best selfie and hashtag #CultTheShow. You can find us dressed up as Poision Ivy and The Joker somewhere in that hashtag!
Cult is running now til the 13th of March. Buy tickets here.
We rate: ★★★★★ 5/5 stars