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Review: Noir Revue

Adelaide Fringe

The Noir Revue hit town on Friday night, promising a return to a time “when men were men and femmes were fatale”. ★★★

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“Step back into an age of jazz and film noir for night of heartbreak, loneliness, anger and sadness,” it urged.

Okay, I thought, I’ll be up for that.

A long-term fan of Chandler and Hammett, Bogie and Mary Astor in The Maltese Falcon – all that stuff. Let’s see what they make of it.

We did get the jazzy music. In fact, more than 60 per cent of the program was songs; not ’30s or ’40s standards, either, but as far as I could tell almost all original songs delivered by drums, bass, guitar, piano and vocals delivered by the apparent leader of the show.

The songs were fine, but not strong enough to carry the amount of show time they had to fill.

In between were brief snatches of a pre-recorded voice-over with cheesy LA accent, played with video footage of sleazy bar scenes (audio was loud, fuzzy and difficult to understand).

These snippets led to what seemed to be the real business, which was about nine or 10 striptease routines, delivered by four girls getting various bits of their kit off. A couple of these spots were worth mention: a pole-dance section requiring tremendous grace, strength and poise, and a flowing robe dance, with hand-held batons for extra swirling of the chiffon material, which was clever and beguiling, and came to a very impressive conclusion.

But what the show lacked was a coherent unifying theme. The video just didn’t do it, and there was no reference to film-noir characters and themes at all.

I notice that some snippets from previous shows online seemed to include sketch routines. That could stretch the noir theme out a bit better and provide some context for the strips. Or the film could be re-done to connect better.

This was really a burlesque show with quite a lot of song time (more than half), and the flimsiest of film-noir overlays.

As I headed out to the tram, I heard one 60-plus-ish woman ask her friend what she thought. “Well, not baaaad,” came the reply, “but not what I thought it was going to be.” Probably just an old Bogie fan like me, wondering what it was she had missed.

Three stars

Noir Revue is at Nexus Venue, Lion Arts Centre, until February 18 as part of the Adelaide Fringe.

 

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