The Vaudevillians starring Jinkx Monsoon

Jerick Hoffer's energetic performance and quick-witted bantering is a delight to behold.
The Vaudevillians starring Jinkx Monsoon

‘I would definitely recommend it to my friends’ - is the line I overhear walking out of this late-night Perth Fringe Festival Show. ‘The Vaudevillians with Jinkx Monsoon’ is a group of Seattle-based singin’ and dancin’ performers making their Perth debut as part of a three-month Australian tour. In a way, there’s no higher praise. But it’s odd how the audience on the night affects our own experience of live theatre. 

Even though Jinkx Monsoon (aka Jerick Hoffer) who plays Kitty Witless, the Hungarian Jew, is an amazingly impressive singer and highly magnetic performer, her overall performance is somewhat diluted by the lack of consistency in characterisation and the sexual innuendo which seems a little unbelievable for a 1920s cabaret performer. However, there is a gang of girls who screamingly lap up every provocative parted-leg and tongue-rolling that Kitty can deliver. Perhaps there’s a fine line between seducing the audience with controlled restraint rather than throwing everything at them.

Richard Andriessen - better known as Dr Van Don Dandy, PhD - is Kitty’s co-performer, brilliant pianist and the ‘husband’ with whom she has spent the last 90 years frozen in the Antarctic (playing with drugs kids… this is where it will get you!) Their quick witted bantering had the crowd of 150 lapping it up. The performers in this two-hander comedy-and-singing fest are a great technical team. They are seamlessly rehearsed and their fantastic timing is apparent particularly in some of the faster and more complicated numbers.

Organised around the sudden freezing of time and a harking back to the 1920’s, the show covers Kitty’s performance history, the perils of being a white man in the 20’s (think sock suspenders), the perceived benefits of global warming  which culminates in the realisation that all their 90-year-old hits are current-day popular songs. In this way, the show takes its audience on ever-increasing, high-impact musical discoveries. Their rap ‘re-inventions’ are stunning, but they also do amazingly impressive jobs on ‘Hey Big Spender’, ‘Anything Goes’ and ‘What’s Up’ from the band 4 Non Blondes – a great crowd pleaser.

Kitty’s energetic performance is a delight to behold, and her deliciously inventive ad-libbing with audience members – particularly when seated on their laps - is a sign of a very fast funny brain - so quickly go along to see it! I’m looking forward to another creative invention from these two. Perhaps there’s no need to surrender to the Burlesque overtones redolent in so many other Fringe performances, when these two performers/co-writers have oodles of talent in all the other important areas.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

The Vaudevillians starring Jinkx Monsoon

Performed by Jerrick Hoffer and Richard Andriessen 

Co-Writers Jerrick Hoffer and Richard Andriessen.

Teatro at Fringe World, Perth Cultural Centre 
Fringe World

24 – 31 January

Mariyon Slany

Friday 31 January, 2014

About the author

Mariyon Slany runs her own communications and art consultancy. Her formal qualifications in Visual Arts, Literature and Communications combine well with her experience in media and her previous work as WA’s Artbank Consultant for her current position as Public Art Consultant.