The Melba Spiegeltent – 19–21 January 2017
Crossfade is an interactive and provocative exploration of gender, sexuality and identity. Bryan Smith, Lily Fish, Mis Fit, Jessaeme St James, Jessi Lewis, Timothy Treasure and Kiki Targe weave together an eclectic series of short performances with cross-dressing, brief BDSM, nudity and elaborate costumes to create this anti-structure, collaborative cabaret.
Exploring taboos and challenging norms, these performances briefly dip into various characters’ perspectives. A young schoolboy professes his desires to the devil, quietly proclaiming, “When I grow up, I want to be very, very rich, very, very famous, and very… very… sexually attractive…” From a comparatively cynical perspective, a young woman’s seductive striptease transitions into tawdry vulgarity, challenging the objectification and illusory glamour.
Crossfade demonstrates skilful use of space and interaction prior and throughout the performance. A cast member approaches seated guests before the show commences, false eyelashes fluttering while blowing a seductive, glitter-filled kiss. Challenging the barrier between audience and performer as much as it challenges the lines between gender roles, the cast engage with audience members throughout the performance. Pauses, lingering stares and unsettling smiles communicate wordlessly as they spread throughout the space, including walking through audience seats.
The performance toys with LGBTQI tropes, breathing new life into old clichés to deliver an emphatic, defiant ‘fuck you’ to gender and sexual identity norms. From big-haired, exaggeratedly feminine cross-dressing to the literal closet doors from which the actors enter and exit centre stage, subtlety takes a back seat.
Closing on a powerful and somewhat unsettling note with Leonard Cohen’s You Want It Darker, this multi-layered visual narrative is an intense experience. Crossfade makes a statement, and that statement is loud, proud and defiant.