Review: Mum's In - Stories from Razorhurst
SYDNEY: Now into its six month, with no sign of slowing down, Vashti Hughes’ one-woman show is an underground hit, writes Veronica Hannon.
On this particular Sunday, the rooftop bar of the Kings Cross Hotel is alive with bright gay things. People have dressed up. There are a lot of fedoras and feathers. We check out the boys and girls in the gym opposite as we wait for the Bordello Theatre to open downstairs. Instead of a ticket, a big, red L, is drawn on one palm. It’s a reminder of the gash made to the face by a razor and soon we’ll meet some of the colourful ‘big shots’ who prevailed during the razor gangs’ reign of terror. And, of course, there will be a sing-along.
Now into its six month, with no sign of slowing down, Vashti Hughes’ one-woman show is an underground hit. The venue lives up to its name. It must be the reddest room in the red light district. At one end on a bare stage, in a simple shoestring strap dress with her hair scrapped back, Hughes stands beside a piano where composer Ross Johnston is ready to bang out some tunes. She doesn’t need much more. Hughes isn’t intending to present a glamorous portrayal of the era.
Five characters are linked together by Darlo Push leader Guido Calletti who opens and closes the show. Channelling Dubbo girl turned bad, Kate Leigh, psychopath and coke head Frank Green and the notorious prostitute, Nellie Cameron, Hughes also seamlessly switches back and forth between them. There are no props or costume changes to speak of. In one hilarious moment, a spat between Leigh and her arch enemy, brothel queen, Tilly Devine, gets out of hand and we see Hughes switching characters between words, so quick heads were spinning. Hughes has also attempted to craft a plot with a full arc telling the story of people who have come out of poverty and are inventing ways to survive.
Then there are the songs. On this evening everyone got into the spirit and rousing versions of ‘Getting Fucked Up at the Cross’ and ‘Fuck ‘Em’ were sung with punters following the song sheets.
It’s difficult to pull off an entertaining solo show but Hughes, tightly directed by James Winter, manages to do just that.
Mum’s In: Stories from Razorhurst, Bordello Theatre, Kings Cross Hotel. Playing Sundays at 5pm. Bookings: www.mumsin.com.au
[Image] Vasthi Hughes. Photo: Munir Kotadia