art / “Hyper Real”, National Gallery of Australia, until February 18. Reviewed by ANNI DOYLE WAWRZYŃCZAK.
LEXI Sekuless is a wonderful performer and her portrayal of Mariyln Monroe in “Some like it Marilyn” was stunningly realistic.
Some issues though before getting to the show! The Members Dining Room at Old Parliament House could potentially be a fine cabaret venue but, oh boy, does it have some shortcomings to fix before it looks like approaching the standard of the now closed, but sadly missed, Teatro Vivaldi.
The dinner/show was advertised to start at 7pm but patrons were stranded, lined up outside in the cold night air, for some time after that. Then there was a long wait at the tiny temporary bar set up in a hallway serviced by just one bar person who sadly had insufficient float so, to eventually obtain change, another long line up was required. No one on staff thought to check that the pepper pots actually had content which resulted in patrons borrowing containers from surrounding tables only to find them similarly empty. Later, when the “assorted gourmet desserts” were served, the plates meant to accompany the sweets were missing so patrons needed to resort to using previously utilized, and now soiled, bread and butter plates. Pretty ordinary standards forcing many to lament yet again the demise of the fabulously professional Vivaldi’s.
But then there was Lexi and, despite annoyingly frustrating sound problems, her charm and excellent characterisation rode high above the venue and technical support weaknesses. She was innocent and naive in “After the Fall”, vulnerable with “That Old Black Magic”, comedic re-enacting a scene with Tony Curtis from “Some Like it Hot” and sexy as she pouted provocatively through “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”. She captured the many Marilyn nuances perfectly as she sang, spoke and acted with eerie similarity and danced with confidence and beautiful poise as she concentrated the story on the persona and talent of Marilyn rather than on the tabloid scandals, which haunted her private life.
She was ably supported by Helen McFarlane, Zach Raffan and Tim Sekuless, who demonstrated their theatrical versatility as they fleshed out the story appearing as a variety of prominent characters in the Marilyn journey – Jane Russell, Tony Curtis, Billy Wilder, husbands Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller and lover Yves Montand. Some music was sung to recorded tracks but much was played live by the talented Leisa Keen, deservedly much admired for her keyboard wizardry and outstanding voice. Choreography from Annette Sharpe was slick, tight and just right for the limited stage space and the costumes by Gloria Grady and Jacquie Rees were simply stunning. The famous “White Dress” was fabulous as were numerous red and pink gowns and showgirl outfits.
This thoughtfully constructed show (created by Lexi herself) provided an insightful gaze into the tragic life of this vulnerable Princess Diana of her time and deserves a longer run. Catch it when it returns!