The Transform Variety Night – Review

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Last week Vada met with the unforgettable performance artist Scottee ahead of his take-over of the Courtyard Theatre as part of a curatorial slot for the West Yorkshire Playhouse’s 2014 Transform Festival. On Saturday night Scottee took on the mantle of steering the Transform Variety Night away from the more traditional echelons of theatre.

The self-titled ‘low-rent Liberace’ warned that we should except a few surprises, but nothing could have prepared me for the bizarre ensemble of boys in sequins, bare boobs and the unusual amount of bananas that ensued.

From the throng of talented acts, stand-out performances came from charming, burlesque musical duo Bourgeois & Maurice who, poking fun at humanity’s progressively lacking emotional availability, gave us an unexpectedly poignant performance about the self-destructive nature of modern romance. This was all while wearing self-confessed “pubic eyelashes”, beehives that Amy Winehouse would have been proud of, and a cat suit constructed of Vladimir Putin’s face.

Transform

Short and devastatingly entertaining pieces came from the effortlessly talented winner of Baghdad’s got Talent (no really, you read that correctly). The talent show winner, headlined as performing ‘death defying stunts & dazzling magic’, was featured alongside cabaret act Ursula Martinez and Jess Love, who performed new piece ‘Quick Change, Sex Change’. The almost uncomfortable juxtaposition of stark and proud female nudity alongside the burkha-clad Baghdad’s Got Talent doing a fully clothed strip-tease provided a quiet critique about the expectations of female performers in both Western and Eastern culture.

The acts were strung together by the relentlessly charismatic host Scottee, who made interesting commentary (albeit while being a little blunt) about the fourth wall and lots of self-referential parody about the pretentious nature of theatre and performance art.

Transform Festival has been hosted at the West Yorkshire Playhouse for the last three years, bringing its own brand of the bizarre and glamorous to Leeds throughout the week. The fourth coming of Transform has continued to push the boundaries of contemporary theatre and no one can deny that it certainly delivered on the Variety Night. I was shocked, grossed out and a little bit bewildered, and I already can’t wait for next year.

Find out more about the Transform Festival here: www.wyp.org.uk/what%27s-on/2014/transform-14