Venue: Sydney Opera House (Sydney NSW), Dec 22, 2022 – Feb 12, 2023
Director/Creator: Craig Ilott
Cast: Joe Accaria, Jacinta Gulisano, Marcia Hines, Sasha Lee Saunders, Craig Reid, Beau Sargent, Tom Sharah, Sven and Jan, Harley Timmermans
Images by Daniel Boud
Performer Tom Sharah plays someone meek, miserable and lost, inside an exuberant clubland peppered with decadence and brimming with cacophonous life. It is the story of a man’s broken heart, that provides a vague sense of narrative to Velvet Rewired, a theatrical presentation in the form probably best described, as a variety show. Comprising 75 minutes of classic disco hits, and nary a word of dialogue, it is a cornucopia of colour and movement that we are thrust into, along with an old school devil-may-care spiritedness, that hopes to awaken the most wearied of our modern cosmopolitan dispositions.
Created and directed by Craig Ilott, Velvet Rewired provides an excuse for an instance of hedonism, where all the strain of staying alive can be set aside. Ilott urges us to indulge in his fantasy realm, by removing rhyme and reason from our interactions with the staging. Indeed it is when mind-boggling stunts occupy our attention, and we lose our breath gawking at incredible physical feats, by the likes of aerialists Beau Sargent and Harley Timmermans, rollerskating acrobats Sven and Jan, and hula hooping wonder Craig Reid, that the show really lifts us away from the mundane.
Also out of this world, is the singing diva Marcia Hines whose voice and presence help move us somewhere decidedly more transcendent, or rapturous even. Jacinta Gulisano and Sasha Lee Saunders appear to be the hardest working women in showbusiness, onstage for almost the entirety, singing and dancing with great energy and precision, as only the most passionate of artists can. Amy Campbell’s choreography takes care to accentuate the best of this duo’s qualities.
Joe Accaria too is always in sight, as the charismatic DJ perched atop in his secular pulpit, orchestrating the action through his control of the irresistible disco beats. Accaria’s work as musical director for Velvet Rewired is powerful, able to revive the magic of funk and soul music from almost half a century ago, to deliver a sense of timeless euphoria. Lights by Matthew Marshall are dazzling, as they take advantage of the genre’s capacity for limitless ostentation. James Browne’s set design involves a catwalk that makes each member of audience feel part of the action, and his costumes bear a flamboyance and sexiness, that keep our eyes satisfied.
The aforementioned Tom Sharah sparkles when his unnamed character attains his moment of spiritual emancipation. At a show like Velvet Rewired we too are gifted a flash of freedom, where for a few minutes nothing else matters, but the sensual basslines of tried and tested records, that will offer epiphany and redemption, maybe not everlasting, but certain to return when least expected.