Meet Chicklet: a 16-year-old finding herself sexually in 1960s America. Life was tough enough for a teenage girl of the time as everyday ideals of women and status were flipped on their heads. But add schizophrenia and the fact she shares her mind with a dominatrix, an African-American check-out chick and a male model, and the regular adolescent experience pales in comparison.
Psycho Beach Party, heading to this month’s Midsumma Festival from January 11 follows Chicklet in 1962, Malibu Beach. After a series of sado-masochistic attacks on the locals, a hoard of beach bums start investigating the strange assaults as the all-American sweetheart Chicklet questions her own involvement after experiencing black-outs.
Psycho Beach Party was originally written by US iconclast Charles Busch, first performed in 1987 and later turned into a high-camp film in 2000. The show finished a run in Sydney at the Bondi Pavillion in December and Melbourne director Stephen Nicolazzo spoke to the Star Observer during the show’s last days in Sydney.
“It’s been pretty amazing in terms of critical response… it’s been really overwhelming in terms of positive responses and a lot of people having a good time going to the theatre,” he said.
Nicolazzo’s affection for Busch and his work led him to take on this high-camp and twisted production.
“I guess he influenced a lot of work over the years in terms of really playing with gender and politics and doing it in a fun and kind of irreverent way,” he said.
“What drew me at the end of the day was there was a piece out there that kind of played with genre and gender and the things I’m interested in.”
Nicolazzo said the film version had been toned down the sexual perversion from the original script. So he has reverted to the play’s true intentions and enlisted the help of the highly regarded Ash Flanders (Queer as F**k) for the lead role of Chicklet.
“In the play, it’s a bit more kooky in terms of what the actual horror is,” he said.
“It’s more about S&M and sick domination, basically instead of murders, the culprit is shaving people’s pubes.
“So it’s a lot more subversive and the way we are honouring the original is we have Ash Flanders playing Chicklet because I feel like Ash is Australia’s answer to Charles Busch.”
“It’s a big role… it’s full on.”
Psycho Beach Party runs January 11-19 at Theatre Works, St Kilda.
Showbiz and the single life
The single life is a road best travelled with good wine and good friends, well any wine will do. In Gobsmacked, Nikki Aitken and Jamie Burgess take their audiences down this funny and sometimes sad road in this musical theatre-cum-cabaret performance for the Midsumma Festival.
Gobsmacked runs January 15 to February 3 at the Butterfly Club.
Are you ready for this jelly?
The busty ladies of Va Va Boombah are ready to show Midsumma goers what it means to be ‘fat-tastic’. Highly regarded for their titillating and funny performances, this new show,Va Va Boombah 2: Step Right Up! is playing for just one night at the festival on Friday January 18 at the Thornbury Theatre.