The Bodybag - The Panto
by Trevor Ashley
Directed by Trevor Ashley
Starring Trevor Ashley
The Playhouse, Sydney Opera House until May 23
Reviewed by Ron Lee, CSP
It’s been a long while since I saw drag act - probably a show I reviewed at Capriccio’s, and Les Girls before that, so it was interesting to find out how that art form has evolved.
Trevor Ashley’s character, Rachel Marinade, is a diva who was runner-up on Australian Idol and her greatest fear is to be upstaged. After receiving poison pen letters, Rachel feels compelled to engage the services of a bodyguard, Uber driver and former ASIO agent, Tank Charmer, played by Gus Murray.
Add to this a plethora of characters played by the muscular triple-threat Heath Keating, Rachel’s ten-year-old cross-dressing son and Rachel’s bitchy sister, Nicki, and you have the potential for an entertaining show.
Apart from Murray and Keating, Nicholas Craddock is outstanding. Child performers have come a long way. No longer do we have to allow for the immaturity of a young voice and limited experience. Craddock’s singing, acting and dancing skills will ensure that he will attract continuous theatrical work.
As for Nicki, Markesha McCoy is brilliant. From a distance, McCoy looks and sounds much like Marcia Hines and possesses a powerful set of pipes. Her shortened version of River Deep, Mountain High left us wanting more, much more.
Interaction adds to the show. On opening night, three male audience members were invited to the stage to be trained to be Rachel’s back-up dancers. Their reward was the highly-desirable The Bodybag tea towel.
The usual panto “he’s behind you” audience chant was replaced by a more basic warning.
Think of The Angels’ “Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again?”
Ashley’s script is everything and more that you’d expect in this type of show:
“I’m in love with you.”
“I’m in love with you too, and you know what that means? A DUET!”
There are scenes that pay tribute to The Rocky Horror Show and the movie The Bodyguard, but in this production the bodyguard can actually act.
With mentions of, amongst others, Harvey Weinstein, Tony Abbott, Paulini and George Pell, this camp, topical, adult panto is the most entertaining low-budget musical I've seen in years and could easily go to see it again.
Unlike drag shows of the past, there’s no lip-syncing here. It all talent, and it’s no wonder that Trevor Ashley has attracted a cult following.
The Bodybag - The Panto is hugely entertaining and fun.