Tears Before Bedtime: Brisbane Times

Tae Baker

You never really know what you are going to experience at the Brisbane Festival. This is especially true with productions at Theatre Republic, which is exactly why I love the depth of our festival.

However I’ll freely admit that on a list of things I didn’t expect that evening, number one would have been spanking an over-the-top diva while in her bed.

Tears Before Bedtime is a cabaret production (a la art gallery exhibit) that takes place in the bedroom, and bed (!), of Yana Alana (star of La Soiree 2013). You aren’t just a voyeur here, you join her in her misery, delight, dissidence, and embrace of wickedness.

Yana Alana has a wonderful singing voice. She’s even a budding children’s author. Her gift of engaging her intimate group of “fans having a sleepover” was just brilliant… and her ribald jokes! One lady who had been so controlled totally lost it at one of these.

My face ached from smiling and laughing so much.

What exacerbated this delicious pain was how we were forbidden to laugh at one point. It was so hard to keep it contained.

Bec Beat from Circus Oz, Yana’s ever suffering friend, was a delight. She entertained us with shadow puppet theatre and background tunes, and also accidentally elbowed me in the face. Well I hope it was an accident, and she doesn’t do this to everyone. At least it wasn’t the reason my face ached, I swear. My advice to those who are lucky enough to have tickets to this sold out event: be ready for anything, go with it and know your Roses Chocolates in advance.

Tears Before Bedtime: ABC Arts

Alison Croggan

Yana Alana and Tha Parana’s Tears Before Bedtime had an audience of five, all of us dressed in pyjamas and bedsocks before being invited into cabaret performer Yana Alana’s bedroom. The diva herself is hidden under the covers, supposedly crying hysterically (it’s actually a recording), which permits us to explore the bedroom as an art installation. It’s clearly an emotional disaster area, with various plinths on which the remains of chocolate cake, sleeping pills and a Friend are all curatorially labelled. Then the covers are thrown off – “An audience!” and we are invited into bed with Yana Alana, who is having trouble getting to sleep. She offers us a chocolate, reads us a bedtime story (“The moral is, I’m going to kill Gina Rinehart”), sings, complains and plays us her version of a meditation tape, all with the musical and stage assistance of Tha Parana, before finally curling up (in this case, on my breast) and snoring peacefully.

This was beautifully detailed work, very funny and, in the end, surprisingly moving: intimate theatre in which the intimacy was actual.

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’.

Between The Cracks: Aussie Theatre

Reviewed by: Joanna Bowen

Yana Alana, where have you been all my life? From the first, stunning moment of Between the Cracks, Yana Alana is a delight – a stark naked (except for some sparkles), gloriously blue and bold creature with a voice that can make men and women alike swoon.

Along with a room full of mostly women, I wanted to take Yana Alana home and install her in my house as a constant source of wicked amusement. Though what I had in mind was more verbal than what many others were picturing.

I wasn’t aware this was part of the Midsumma Festival (I like going in blind – it limits the preconceptions). I had meant to get along to the festival, so I’m glad I stumbled across it! Testament to the uh, broad, appeal of Yana Alana, I dragged my husband to the show and he utterly loved her, though he’d have to fight me and all the drooling women in the room for her.

Yana Alana is a role model for anyone who appreciates openness – complete and total openness. In her own words, she’s not a role model – she’s a model, with rolls. And a whole lot else!

Her songs are often political, often just hilarious. She makes them less strongly message-focused by her brilliant humour, the way she spices everything up with her ridiculous dance moves, facial expressions and various – again, hilarious – props. With great new tracks like “Your sexuality ain’t your identity” Yana Alana always has something important to say, though mostly it’s along the lines of “Go fuck yourself!”

Speaking of her new self-help book, Go Fuck Yourself, Yana offers us many gems of advice for living life Yana Alana style. Her emotional manipulations and self-justifications are so funny because they’re so true. We’re too busy laughing to squirm, thankfully.

Her abuse of the last remaining Parana (also her accompanist) is an amusing sideshow, and a great excuse for some audience involvement. However, she doesn’t need this theme to hang her hat on; her music is her strength, and we’d happily listen to extracts from her self-help book all night. And more of that voice. Oh, what a voice.

Whether you’re a long-term fan, or have never seen her perform, you’ll never regret seeing Yana Alana, up-close and rather personal. She is a pure force of nature (a blue one, of course), full of wit, a delightful lack of self-dignity, and laugh-out-loud moments. You just can’t help but love her, though she doesn’t want you to tell her that. Just be quiet and let her project her fantasies onto you. Oh, and above all, don’t interrupt her when she’s talking about herself!