Showstopper

Agent Cleave
Melbourne Fringe

Reviewed 18th September 2014
 

Agent Cleave starts his show in a campy pirate get-up with an a-mazing hairpiece curling its way down his shoulder. Possessed of stage presence, excellent eye makeup and some seriously on point eyebrow game, his opening number promises an engaging hour of queer cabaret performance antics.  But impressive costuming aside, there is not enough here to engage for a full-length show.

A loosely conceived noir-inspired story is briefly advanced, but then just as quickly dropped, and a series of unusual characters in amazing costumes (a mermaid suit is particularly memorable) provide the basis for a series of covers.

Agent Cleave’s shout-singing style (in an unnecessary American accent) starts to grate after a while, and neither he, nor his band, seem to be striving for musical excellence.  This would be fine if the necessary audience rapport was present – in the first number, Cleave was giving so much energy he had the front row eating out of his hand, but this quickly faded.

I can imagine shorter versions of this act going great guns at a variety night, or even in a double bill with some other performer, but not enough to sustain interest for a full length show.

 

When she's not making theatre, Hannah likes critiquing it, and is a contributing theatre reviewer for Theatreview, the New Zealand Listener, Broadway Baby and The Wireless.

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