Snow Fright & the Apple of Temptation
Nikki Nouveau @ Nexus Cabaret
11:30pm, Sat 2 Mar 2013
“A chilling, sensual cabaret of murderous rivalry and enchantment,” leads the Fringe Guide’s entry for Snow Fright & the Apple of Temptation. “Featuring dark burlesque, Bavarian folklore and live jazz-blues,” it concludes.
And, having just transcribed that from the Fringe Guide, I should have known better than to commit to this show; I’m an overly zealous advocate of the Oxford Comma, and the lack thereof in Snow Fright‘s précis has just annoyed me mightily.
If only I’d noticed it nine months ago… I could’ve wandered down the Fringe Club much earlier this evening, and not be any worse off as a result. In fact, I’d be slightly better off, since I would’ve had one less post to write.
Still, a burlesque cabaret piece based (loosely) on Snow White is an interesting idea… and certainly gets off to a dark start as Snow Fright quickly transforms from innocent into deeply alluring, triggered by the titular Apple of Temptation. Snow Fright’s equally seductive stepmother also appears, and the two provide – with live musical accompaniment – scenes that were certainly not in the Disney interpretation of the fairy tale.
There were some neat touches in the adaptation: I thought the character transitions performed by walking through a “mirror”, and the use of the mirror to justify some of the burlesque-y stripping pieces, were really quite neat. The appearance of some (beautifully sung and curiously arranged) cabaret staples, along with a colourful fan dance (oh, those heels!), provide some substance to the performance; but most of the scenes felt waaaaay too long, and the general pace of the show was almost treacle-like.
And then came the audience participation bit… and here I need to take a slight detour.
During Fringe time, out and about as I am, I regularly encounter a lot of people… and many become familiar. There’s one shy chap – stocky build, thinning hair, ponytail – who I used to see at a lot of music shows; I remember trying to strike up a conversation with him at a show last year, but… well, he’s not the conversational type.
Anyway, He was sitting by himself at a cocktail table, front-and-centre. And so, when Snow Fright and her lascivious stepmother slunk into the crowd to pull up someone with whom to interact, He was fair game.
The only problem is, “wooden” would be an understatement for His actions. “Frozen” may be more apt; “paralysed” is probably the most effective description. After dragging Him offstage for an uncomfortably long time – presumably to dress Him up somewhat – He returned to the stage unchanged and sat stage-centre, unmoving, as Snow Fright essentially performed a lap-dance for Him. She’d gesture to Him to help her undress – you know, all sexy-like – but He was unflinching, petrified. It was a desperately uncomfortable experience… for us, the audience, as well as Him.
Look, there’s no doubting that Nikki Nouveau (as the titular Snow Fright) was a consummate performer, with both a body and voice to die for; I also thought Kira Daley’s wicked stepmother was a quality performance, too. But the performances were held back by inexorably slow pacing and – on this evening – an instadeath audience participation piece… and no amount of polished production values were going to paper over those cracks.
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) March 2, 2013