Yummy at Underbelly: Press night review by Stephen Vowles.

This troupe of seven exceptional artistes are totally mesmerising, strutting their stuff and striking fierce poses like the seasoned entertainers that they are, under the very watchful and skilful direction of James Welsby whose inspiration to formulate the show came from a period in Australia history much like Stonewall in New York City.

James himself says: “The ‘Tasty Raid’ was an incident in a Melbourne queer club in 1994 where armed police raided a nightclub called Tasty and for seven hours wrongfully detained, strip searched/cavity searched, and brutalised about 460 patrons. The queer community stood up and fought back, seeking compensation and better treatment from the police and a promise to protect the queer community. It was a turning point in Australian queer culture. I wanted to create a queer cabaret in a response to the name Tasty, but to put a positive spin on it. The goal was to create a reality where queerness is central, uplifting, safe, and celebrated, as a response to the vision those patrons in 1994 were fighting for.”

The troupe’s lip syncing is precise and when actual vocals are performed especially by Joni in the Moon, the haunting and soulful delivery is captivating. 

This is also high kitsch, camp, naked and naughty, irreverent, brassy, bold and beautiful, bordering on the creepy – but always outrageous entertainment. Special mention to Hannie Helsden whose skill with the Hula Hoop certainly defined gravity and considering she is so tiny her core tummy muscle ability was off the richter scale. This is 21st century burlesque and with ‘Karen from Finance’ in control as the mistress of ceremonies; this is a very special event in this year’s Underbelly programme.

Yummy has a rapport to it, a buzz, full of horny humour where there is enough testosterone and estrogen in the room to float a battleship. Totally awesome. Well worth a visit, this is party central.


Photos by Helen Murray

Yummy runs to Sunday 28 July at Underbelly, Southbank, 30 The Queen’s Walk, Lambeth, London SE1 8XX. Box office: 03333 444 167 

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