Review: ‘Yummy Deluxe’ is an unpredictable feast for the senses

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Review: ‘Yummy Deluxe’ is an unpredictable feast for the senses

Yummy Deluxe
Image: Joel Deveroux
Words by Tom Parker


Melbourne Fringe kicked into gear on Thursday September 12, bringing with it the first creative comedies, the first dynamic dances, the first chaotic cabarets. Across two-and-a-half weeks, the city is enveloped by a marriage of artistic liberation and contemporary conscience — but not always delivered as such.

This festival brings with it inclusion and articulation, expertise and ambition. Tell your friends, scribe a letter, write a Facebook status, yell across the street; the more we can get the word out, the more we can highlight the arts’ oft-misrepresented talents.

In the Trades Hall’s ETU Ballroom on opening night, the award-winning YUMMY DELUXE was performed. A feast for the senses, it was those who unbuttoned their collar and emptied their mind that gained the most from this frenzied cabaret.

YUMMY is the wondrous sextet of Benjamin Hancock, Zelia Rose, Valerie Hex, Hannie Helsden, Joni in the Moon and Jandruze. DELUXE is a lavish delivery of the preceding word; across dance, singing, acrobatics and comedy, there are no shortcuts here and it’s sheer hyperbole that takes centre stage.

From the opening credits — or should I say, thumping dance prelude — YUMMY had us hooked. It was as if I’d just wandered into Sircuit seven beers deep, limber at the knees and enthusiastic for the night ahead; if it wasn’t for my three-deep seat position, I probably would’ve up there on stage with them.

As the pulsing bass of the opening sequence tapered, the stage was Valerie Hex’s to introduce us to the spectacular we were about to witness. Shrewd and infectious, she cosied the crowd in with the lure of a Bureau of Meteorology forecast: Enticing but unpredictable at the same time. Our seatbelts were fastened but we had no idea where this road was taking us.

From a dazzling dance courtesy of the world’s most influential burlesque figure of 2018, Zelia Rose, to Jandruze’s equally perplexing and entertaining sandwich-making exercise, the audience were quickly acquainted with the reality of what cabaret is, and how YUMMY DELUXE would ensue.

It was all guns blazing from the start and when Hannie Helsden arrived to mesmerise with her genius hula hooping routine, the occasion bordered on pandemonium. At one point, she was spinning at least 15 hula hoops – an acrobatic masterclass that transcended regular human limits.

After a mask-wearing faux baby crawled on stage in easily the most perplexing moment of the night, it was time for Valerie Hex to take us on an illusory expedition. From swallowing a knife to a ‘When Doves Cry’ tribute, it was a cliched yet enchanting deception that kept the audience on the edge of their seats.

For much of the evening, the spectacle sat above the surface. However, when YUMMY’s main vocalist, Joni in the Moon, came out to perform an a capella of sorts, it was apparent DELUXE more than just a glitzy spectacular. Singing of female optimism and strength, there was more to this cabaret than just the performance medley that looked us in the face.

YUMMY DELUXE is an award-winner and it’s hard to argue such an accolade given the intricacy of its production and choreography. With a full Fringe season to come, if you were artistically curious, you’d already have a ticket by now. Do yourself a favour.

YUMMY DELUXE is on at Trades Hall until Sunday September 29 (bar Mondays). Grab your tix via the Fringe website.