Devastating Beauty Review – A Star is Torn

Their voice “a glorious fusion of Kate Bush and James Blake

Aussie Theatre

Any show where the lead performer is standing in sparkling platform shoes and wearing a sequin jacket immediately gets extra points from me. The world can always do with more sequins, particularly since COVID. With that out of the way, Devastating Beauty is an hour, almost, of dazzling devastation and sits comfortably in the Midsumma Festival program. Coming off as a cross between Liza Minnelli genetically fused with Joel Grey, gentlefemme Cabaret Queen, Christopher Fieldus, gives what can only be described as a LGBTIQA+ star turn. I loved their performance which at times reminded me of stage legend Reg Livermore’s Betty Blockbuster

Partway through Devastating Beauty, I found myself scrolling through thoughts of loneliness, late night sex and heartbreak as Fieldus spun tales of moving to Melbourne, infidelity, loving and losing, drag and growing up gay. I was moved by the power of our Cabaret Queen’s voice and connection to the music. It wasn’t a note-perfect performance, but I didn’t care given the “old school Melbourne” surroundings of the venue, The Motley Bauhaus. Thank God there’s another venue in Carlton aside from La Mama where Australian stories can be heard. Featuring music by Celine Dion, Róisín Murphy and The Killers, this queen in platform shoes certainly knows how to hold an audience and is captivating for the most part.

Told in song and prose poetry, the prose for me was the least successful part of the show. Not because it wasn’t well written. It’s exceptionally well written, but because Fieldus didn’t memorise it. Reading instead from a script placed on a music stand, and although it was read with a degree of flair, it pulled away from the stage performance and hindered the telling of what I’m sure are true stories. Restricting movement on stage and reducing eye contact with the audience. Now that I’m done with the nitpicking, I have no doubt that with tighter direction, more commitment and extra sequins, the prose like our Cabaret Queen’s soaring voice could fly. A star is torn and tortured in Midsumma’s Devastating Beauty. But a star has also been born.

Musical arrangements by Matt Hadgraft and Image by Matto Lucas Photography

Runs from the 8th until the 11th of February 2023 at The Motley Bauhaus

Devastating Beauty – Book Now

More Information: Having previously charmed audiences as Ms CeCe Rockefeller, writer, drag artist and dramaturg Christopher Fieldus has written three works of tragically romantic melodrama, presented variously at Melbourne Fringe, Adelaide Fringe, Midsumma, and Sydney Mardi Gras.

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