After finding fame in her homeland on the first season of Australian Idol back in 2003, Courtney Act set her sights on the bright lights of Los Angeles, where she went global on the sixth season of drag juggernaut RuPaul’s Drag Race. Now she brings her show (and her red ruby Louboutins) back down under with The Girl from Oz.
In what is billed as her love letter to Australiana, many classics are given the Courtney Act treatment – from Men at Work, Peter Allen and The Divinyls, to Sia and AC/DC. But oddly, given its title and marketing description, the show doesn’t feel well suited to an Australian audience.
There are countless Trump jokes, Fox News gags and a video interlude during a costume change featuring Act selling a “learn to speak Australian” course which, while funny, seems a little redundant – we’re from here, we already get it! The humour itself also seems to cater more to an American audience; it is far more broad and a little less sophisticated than what Australians might expect, and some of the early jokes fall a bit flat.
Unlike many drag queens whose bread and butter is lip synching, Act has an enviable voice with an incredible range. If you shut your eyes during a particularly special Lana Del Rey cover of “Stayin’ Alive”, you might think it was Lana herself singing.
The other most enjoyable aspect of the show is when Act goes off-script and engages in banter with the audience. These little snippets of her true sense of humour got the most laughs on opening night, making me wish the whole show was less scripted and allowed more space for improvisation.
There’s no doubt that Act is a great talent and Drag Race fans are sure to have a good time (the show is peppered with references to her fellow contestants that only fans will understand), but those expecting an homage to her homeland might be left wanting.
Courtney Act – The Girl from Oz is showing as part of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival at the Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent until June 18. See more Adelaide Cabaret Festival reviews and previews here.
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