Before the show even started, I learned that Rianna Hollsten-Provenzano (writer and performer of this one woman show), was a larrikin. The girl next to me went to school with Rianna and although she hadn’t seen her in the seven years since graduation, Rianna’s infectious humour was still fresh in her mind. So fresh, that when Rianna’s show popped up on her Facebook she ‘just had to come and see it’.
And from the second Rianna walked out on stage, I could see what her old friend was on about. Rianna’s character Shazza was a hunk of spunk who instantly took command of the stage and had the jam-packed room of Ashgrove’s Junk Bar laughing from the get-go. Part of the humour was Shazza’s ability to dive tits first into discussions that most people pussyfoot around, like the female orgasm. Unlike the common rhetoric that says in hushed voices ‘you’ll know when you know’, Shazza belted to the quality backing of her ukulele ‘feels like my fanny is dancing in the rain’. I’ve never laughed so hard during a musical number.
The Shazza Show – directed by Tyler Harlum – is a Kath & Kim inspired cabaret for people who’ve hit rock bottom. Shazza instated this dynamic early on, making it clear that she was here to help us sados get up to her level of orgasmic awesomeness. Decked out in a leopard print boob tube and a denim skirt over leggings– Shazza was far from your usual sage.
But don’t let appearances deceive you – Shazza really did know a thing or two about a thing or two. Spruced throughout the side-splitting comedy about her time with The Rabbit and her faithful faith in star signs were splitting jabs at the social and political landscape of today. But these moments of sincerity left me unsure of what exactly Rianna was poking a stick at. Was it the stigma around women’s sexuality? Was it the normalisation of sexual harassment? Rape culture? Systemic racism? Our countries legacy of taking things that aren’t ours?
Yes, these are all juicy, interlinked issues, but I think hunkering down on a single issue would’ve strengthened the relationship between the comedic moments and the sincere by giving the piece focus.
Rihanna’s focus was commendable; she moved with the crowd and improvised during mishaps while staying as Shazza as ever. Like when the zip of her top came undone, she got a girl in the front row to fix it up and quipped ‘well that would’ve made it a show worth 20 bucks aye’. Or when a rowdy audience member – who spilt red wine all over herself mid-performance – started frequently interrupting Shazza to ‘whoop’, Shazza took it in her stride and went off script to hype her up ‘yeah babe!’.
To any of my fellow Kath & Kim fans – grab yourself a Cardonnay and let Shazza the hornbag lift your spirits. Catch the Shazza Show at the Junk Bar this weekend and next but get in quick – there’s only a few seats and a whole lotta Shaz. Find tickets here: Upcoming Events – Anywhere Festival