You’ve heard of clothes so tight they look painted on. And if you’re familiar with the outlandish talents of Yana Alana, you’ll know what’s coming next. Yes, the curvaceous diva, potty-mouthed performance poet and solipsist extraordinaire arrives on stage as a vision in blue – with a huge bouffant wig, a smattering of glitter and a skintight bodysuit literally painted on. Sarah Ward won a Helpmann Award (quite rightly) for Between the Cracks.
Yana Alana is one of the most totalising, larger-than-life stage creations to come out of Melbourne since Edna Everage, and the turn to burlesque suits her to a T.
The show opens with a witty, verbally inventive blues parody. Indeed, the state of Yana Alana’s mental health is a recurring motif (in a later song, we get a vocal exhibition of the diva on a psychoactive cocktail of prescription drugs) but her delicious satire also embraces her more traditional concerns. It wouldn’t be Yana without lashing of queerness, smut and self-regard.
There’s a smart, mordantly funny number about sexuality and identity being two separate categories, a backwards going forwards jazz standard on anal sex, and a jaunty (and decidedly political) ditty that dwells on how many public figures share Yana’s aversion to apology.
The rangy musical offerings display Ward’s vocal mastery, fully unleashed at the finale with a poignant and original ballad. She’s accompanied by the po-faced Louise Goh on piano, who keeps answering her mobile on stage in a running gag that leads, inevitably, to one of Yana’s fearful tantrums.
As well as the glorious singing, you get unladylike sight gags, kooky interpretive dance, and a snatch of Yana’s latest volume of performance poetry, Go F— Yourself.
Between the Cracks is a blast. Swift, irreverent, ridiculously entertaining cabaret, and a festive end to a strong year of performance at fortyfivedownstairs.