Archive for “July, 2013”

Between The Cracks: Theatre People ★★★★★

Submitted by Ash Cottrell 

Don’t ever let it be said that I don’t love a naked woman because now I do and her name is Yana Alana. That’s not her real name of course. Her real name is Sarah Ward and she is the woman beneath the blue in this titillating, provocative and deliciously clever cabaret show entitled, Between the Cracks.

Between the Cracks was part of the Melbourne Cabaret Festival and had a five night run at one of the best Melbourne spots for performance, Fortyfive Downstairs. In the depths of the venue Yana Alana bared the depths of her soul to both the shock and delight of her audience. At one point she dangled her bare breasts on an unsuspecting audience member in the front row and I watched with delight as awkwardness and embarrassment ensued.

The awkwardness was of course an affliction only of the audience because Yana Alana bent over, bared all and boldly crossed the decency line in her show.

Her wit and her performance ability warranted a five star rating and boy can this lady in blue sing!

She serenaded us with such naughty numbers as I’m Blue, Life is a one woman show and my personal favourite, Back Door Blues in which Yana perched herself up on a block and trumpeted her way to a crescendo. It was glorious, hilarious and inappropriate all at the same time. Perhaps the most entertaining moment of the evening was when Alana proceeded to pull various items out from her bottom (from between the crack) including sprinkles of glitter, an earring and other items that shall not be named here.

I was so impressed by her one woman show that I haven’t stopped looking her up online, showing friends and family her various YouTube clips and marvelling at her penchant for the outrageous. A Melbourne based cult hit, Sarah Ward began her cabaret career as part of Sister She, a hip-hop cabaret act that toured Australia. A seasoned performer, Sarah Ward collaborates with a range of different musicians, artists and is even part of Circus Oz, along with her partner in life and art, Bec Matthews.

The character of Yana Alana is a narcissist with delusions of grandeur making her adventures, songs and interactions with her accompanist on the piano Louise, hilarious. The tortured character has just finished a stint in rehab where she discovered (among other things) that she hates listening to other people talk about themselves and their various woes. At moments during the performance she read excerpts from her self-help book, appropriately entitled Go f*ck yourself to knowing smiles from the audience.

Alana’s performance was political without being preachy, musical without being nauseating and possessed a dazzling commitment to costume design. Yana Alana was covered from head to toe in blue spray paint.  She was sparkly, elevated in heels and wore a voluminous blue wig. If she didn’t have such a feminine figure, you would wonder if she was a drag queen with her taste in couture (or lack thereof) and dramatic eye makeup.

When the show was over and Yana left to a standing ovation, I felt a slight void. Yana Alana didn’t come back for an encore. It was time now to leave the performance where this palpable energy was felt and return back to the real world.  Back to a world where I don’t get to see naked people in spray paint that sing and dance and say things like “I’m not a role model. I’m just a model with rolls.” Yana Alana made me proud to be a girl. She made me laugh hysterically. She made me wish I’d never missed all of her previous shows. She made me a fan and she is one of the best performers I’ve ever witnessed in the flesh. Alive, rambunctious and with a hint of neurosis, Yana Alana made me feel exhilarated. It took me by surprise too as it was just any other Wednesday night in Melbourne.

Between The Cracks: Arts Hub ★★★★1/2

By Antony Steadman

Part cabaret, part self-help seminar and a whole lot of hilarious, Yana Alana’s latest show is sure to put her back on the map as one of Australia’s best cabaret stars.

Having presented this show previously for the Midsumma Festival, this is somewhat of a return season, yet still feels as fresh as it did six months ago.

This hour and a half of joy is the creation of the warped mind of Sarah Ward. Resplendent in nothing but blue body paint, Yana certainly gets the attention of the crowd from the very beginning. Obviously comfortable in her own skin, Ward’s character is bawdy, politically incorrect, dirty and downright fun. Yana allows Ward and her audience the opportunity to feel that it’s ok to open oneself up to complete self-expression.

Yana’s latest book, entitled Go Fuck Yourself by Yana Alana, forms the basis of the self help send ups. With songs as broad as the humour, there is a palpable energy between performer and audience, sustained throughout the evening. Ward’s ability to command attention with just a gesture or a facial expression is a rare gift. Her dance moves draw many giggles from the crowd.

Not only is Ward a writer of great jokes, but she also is a talented musician, and responsible for the variety of songs heard throughout the night. With music ranging from the hilarious to the heart-wrenching, she lacks no opportunity to display her musical talents and powerhouse vocals.

All of her former backing band, the Paranas, have left, bar one – who is her accompanist. It provides a great excuse for some Yana-style abusive banter, all of which is hilarious, and which also leads to some (un)welcome audience participation.

If you’ve never seen Yana Alana in the flesh (pardon the pun) or even if you are a return punter, the show is best enjoyed with an extremely open mind. It is not for the faint of heart and could potentially cause offence – but Yana doesn’t care. As the disclaimer at the entrance to the performance space reads: ‘If swearing offends you, go fuck yourself’.