Review: Eco Diva falls flat

“Diva Sheila, Eco Diva: Takin’ it to the Street,” at The Street Theatre, 7.30pm until tomorrow Saturday, November 10. Reviewed by Helen Musa

WHAT is an eco-diva? 

Well, one thing is certain; you won’t find out if you see Kate Hosking’s one-woman show at The Street 2.

Unless, that is, you accept her throwaway line that the Eco Diva puts the “o” into “eeek” or the Jesuitical argument that we are all part of the ecosystem, meaning, presumably, that you and I can be eco-divas too.

Hosking, a talented bassist, singer, dancer and actor, is no cabaret artist, and like it or not, her self devised, self written, self-directed show is cabaret, for the character she portrays, Sheila Diva, is no invented persona, but Hosking herself.

In the small confines of the studio, this talented actress, bursting with tales to tell of a fascinating life in a Slovenian world music group, smiles winsomely at the audience and recites her own script as if she’s having trouble learning it.

An experienced cabaret artist engages directly with an audience, repeating the same words night after night, but making them sound as if the material is brand-new.

Hosking desperately needed a seasoned director to help her tone down the artificial inflections of her attractive voice, to help her engage with those in the audience not in her inner circle and to give the script greater focus.

That script leaves much to be desired. Sheila Diva, referred to in the third person more often than not, leaves no stone unturned in addressing all the world issues imaginable like reconciliation, racism, capital punishment, detention centres and the really important one, (this was an old joke) the problem she shares with Bette Midler – how to walk on high heels.

The segues are slight. The recollection of a school class on Southern racism led to a mournful jazz reworking of “Strange Fruit,” an inexplicable rendition of John Schumann “I was only 19” in a put-on Aussie accent seemed hard to justify. And I’m still trying to figure out how “Mr Bojangles” made it onto the song list.

Struggling to make her own written script come to life, Hosking simply doesn’t come across. Maybe if there had been tables and drinks, she would have.

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