Review: Guilty Pleasures (Blue Saint Productions)

bluesaintVenue: Hayes Theatre Co (Potts Point NSW), Dec 17 – 21, 2014
Book: Joshua Robson
Lyrics: Hugo Chiarella
Director: Joshua Robson
Music Director and Composer: Robert Tripolino
Cast: Angelique Cassimatis
Image by Mike Snow

Theatre review
Joshua Robson, Hugo Chiarella and Robert Tripolino’s Guilty Pleasures is a 45 minute musical with murderous women and their bad men. It is Chicago‘s “Cell Block H” expanded, and they’ve all had it coming. Comprising a series of independent stories about fatal romances, the short narratives are amusing, with compelling songs that add drama and a colourful sense of theatricality.

Performed by just one woman, the work demands that Angelique Cassimatis provides range and variety to each character, but the show does not have enough tonal shifts in performance or design, to create textural complexity from its string of tales. Robson’s direction blends each segment to form a cohesive whole, leaving behind the lively and fluctuating nature of the text. Cassimatis’s training and experience is evident, especially with her physical discipline and dance abilities, but her approach tends to be a technical one. Her talents in singing and acting seem to come less naturally, but the actor’s conviction is clear to see, and her energetic presence helps endear her to the crowd.

Burlesque touches in the production provide a sexy edge to the already risqué themes it covers. The writing has a dark humour that would appeal to those who seek a musical theatre experience that is less than “family-friendly”, but its execution might be a little subdued for some. Written and directed by three men, Guilty Pleasures is a feminine work with a queer sensibility and a charming cynicism about romantic relationships. The women in the show are determined to define themselves against the men in their lives, and all pay a hefty price at the end.