Reviewer: Jo Beggs
Homotopia, Liverpool’s international festival of queer arts and culture, brings some of the city’s own home grown female talent to the stage in Lavender Girls, an evening of cabaret and music at the Unity. Lavender Girls is now an established part of the festival and proves that, although queer cabaret seems mostly dominated by men, that there’s a wealth of talented girls out there.
Our hilarious hosts are the brilliant Keddy Sutton and Gill Hardie as Caz N Britney from their recent Unity production, Scottie Road The Musical. In their pyjama bottoms, Uggs and rollers, they get the night off to a great start with their scripted and non-scripted banter and Scottie Road songs. Both women are gifted comedians as well as extremely capable vocalists and the ideal comperes – generous in their introductions of the other acts, yet always leaving you wanting them back for more.
The acts they are here to introduce are a mixed bag. Gem Andrews is an engaging country singer whose apologies for killing the comedy buzz of the evening with her ‘depressing’ songs were unnecessary given the audience response to her beautiful, haunting performance. Rachel Awork takes the pace up a bit with a handful of original songs and covers. Both help create a nice cabaret mix, but it’s the comedy that wins over the late night audience. Julie ‘Phycho’ Jones might well be one of Caz N Britney’s best mates. This character comedy from Elizabeth Hotson is sharp and perfectly paced as Julie tells us tales of her life, shows us her dodgy burlesque act, and tries to turn ventriloquist armed only with a plastic bag. She drags a couple of unsuspecting women off the front row and pits them against one another in a ‘price is right’ style meat auction.
The headline act is Rosie Wilby. Wilby is an established performer on the comedy and cabaret circuit, but here she’s the weakest act, struggling to get the laughs. If this is Wilby trying out new material, it’s very probably not going to make the final cut. She often seems pretty unsure of it herself, moving on swiftly when a joke falls flat. It’s a disappointing end to an otherwise brilliant night of entertainment.
Still…the great part about cabaret is the variety of acts and the chance to see something new. You always come away with a few new favourites on the list of people to look out for…and there are certainly some acts here worth keeping an eye on. Lavender Girls is a one-nighter going from strength to strength. I’ll be looking out for 2013’s Girls.