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Review: Velvet will leave you drunk on disco

Adelaide Fringe

Head back to a time when disco was the life and breathe of the night; glitter, sequins and glamour ruled, and New York nightclub Studio 54 was the place to be. ★★★★★

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Throughout the Adelaide Fringe season, the Spiegletent in the Garden of Unearthly Delights is being transformed each evening into a glittering assault on the senses as director Craig Ilott’s Velvet emulates that hedonistic world.

Disco, dance, burlesque and circus combine to treat audiences to a feast of seduction and excitement. Dazzled and hypnotised, you’ll find it impossible to sit still in your seat.

Leading the cast is actor and singer Brendan Maclean, who guides the show with a loose story of a young man’s journey of discovery. There is just enough plot to tie together the individual performances and Maclean is perfect in the role, with show-stopping vocals and the right combination of innocence and intrigue to offset the glitz.

Velvet is full of incredible talent, including “hula boy” Craig Reid (a show favourite), mix-master and musical heavyweight Joe Accaria, dazzling singer-dancers Chaska Halliday and Rechelle Mansour, acrobats Mirko Köckenberger and Stephen Williams, and aerialist Emma Goh. However, a reverent silence befell the audience when Australia’s soul-queen, Marcia Hines, took to the stage.

Hines has clearly discovered an elixir for eternal youth with her commanding beauty and unwavering energy, but it’s the authenticity and wisdom in her stage presence that makes it hard to look away.

After all the lively disco beats, the show’s climax is a soulful acoustic version of The Bee Gees’ “Staying Alive”. Maclean’s rendition is breath-taking, offering a beautiful and emotive new perspective on the lyrics.

Velvet is the soul of the Adelaide Fringe. After debuting at the festival last year, its return sets a high standard for cabaret performance, yet without any sense of pretention.

Some shows have already sold out, so get tickets if you can and prepare to leave completely drunk on disco.

Five stars

Velvet is playing at The Spiegletent in The Garden of Unearthly Delights until March 13.

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