Review: The Ruby Red Fatales
Presenter: Paper Haus Theatre Co
By Mae Anthony
A small and dimly lit bar, gorgeous women, feather boas, striking young gentlemen, dancing, singing, and a stylish jazz band – it’s Paris in the year of 1943, and a team of fiery showgirls are not quite what they seem.
I was fortunate to see the preview of this jaunty show at the Ellington over a refreshing glass of white. Paper Haus Theatre Company, a Perth based group, offer an hour of humour, heartache, and fun, intertwined with acting, song, and dance. Touching on themes of love, power and sex, the show alludes to the attitudes about the roles of women in the second World War. However, these attitudes were presented with a quick-witted comparison to their active participation in the war.
The show was written and directed by Heather Kate, with musical direction and arrangement by Alex Turner. It opens with three tantalising showgirls singing a number to introduce the squad of snipers set out to lure Nazi operatives as prey. The show follows Gina, or Miss Titties, as she joins the Ruby Red Fatales, with much reluctance by fellow showgirls Miss Ruby, Miss Scarlet and Miss Crimson. Two people fall in love, against strict orders, and there is some jovial banter amongst the German soldiers as they find themselves at a burlesque club on their night off. From here, the story spirals out of control to reveal betrayal: who’s side are they really on?
The music for this show was catchy, sensitive, and contrasted nicely throughout. It’s modern, with a tight rhythm section and a bold horn line-up that manoeuvred smoothly throughout the bluesy tunes. The vocals were both captivating and powerful, and the arrangements of the tunes moulded the amusing and allegorical lyrics. Songs to note: “The Ruby Red Fatales”, ‘Lady Grenade’, ‘What’s It Going To Feel Like When I Lose My Chance In Love?’ and my personal favourite, ‘There’s No Better Time to Fall in Love’ weave in and out of the plot to summarise the characters’ positions in a mixture of both sentimental reflection and cheek.
I thoroughly enjoyed the jamming of the band at the beginning of the show, amongst scene changes, and at its conclusion. Their comical interjections in various points of the story offered nice breaks in often intense scenes.
The Ruby Red Fatales runs from February 12-16 at the Ellington Jazz Club as part of the 2016 Fringe World Festival.