Review - Doll by Babushka: a riot of colour, laughter and silliness
Right: Alicia Cush, Bethan Ellsmore and Judy Hainsworth.
Doll by Babushka
Directed by Caroline Dunphy
Presented by Little Black Dress Creatives in partnership with Brisbane Powerhouse
Season: 24-27 November 2016. Running time 60 minutes. Bookings: brisbanepowerhouse.org/events/2016/11/24/doll-by-babushka/
Babushka is a trio of extremely talented young ladies – Judy Hainsworth (Princess Doll), Alicia Cush (Over Achiever Doll) and Bethan Ellsmore (Party Doll) – who invite us into their Dream House for an hour’s long adventure of fun, song and laughter about childhood’s best friend, our favourite doll.
This show is full of energy from whoa to go. The Dolls take us back to childhood when we all had our favourite doll, whether it was a full size baby doll or a Barbie. Judy delighted us with a rendition of I’m a Barbie Girl in which we learn that from a doll’s point of view, it’s not much fun being stuck in a box forever so that the resale value doesn’t go down, and being made of plastic.
They also took us through the things we used to do with our dolls - how our imagination made up stories and we acted them out. We also get a run down on Barbie’s career, from the very start, her wardrobe, her accessories, through to Ken’s appearance, the break up with Ken and then the reunion again with Ken. And, of course, they don’t forget the few blokey dolls that were around as well – like He-Man and G.I. Joe.
Bethan, the Party Doll, takes the show up a notch to the adult doll and gets raunchy on stage with a blow-up male doll, whose sparkly pants are hilariously way too small for his large appendage. The sexual innuendo, wit and jokes about the types of adult dolls made for the market after well-known celebrities has the audience cacking themselves.
Not only do these girls sing and act, but Alicia and Bethan also play musical instruments alongside the piano accompaniment by David Law. Bethan was the violinist and Alicia played the piano accordion, a talent not often seen these days, but it worked in perfectly. The three ladies had powerful voices in their own right, however Bethan’s signing to Offenbach was incredible. This was made all the funnier as she comes out into the audience and was partying with audience members, one of whose lap she collapses on. The other ‘dolls’ on stage, inform us she has run out of batteries and requires alcohol to get her going again. As this particular theatre allows you to take in your drinks, a glass of red was quickly handed to her from which she takes a swig and she is up and rearing to go again.
The songs these girls sing range across the genre of music, from opera to rock ‘n’ roll. I recognised a few of the 80’s songs, only after quite a few sentences as they were singing them in a different tempo (very lady like), before really getting stuck into the performance, the way the song was written.
I particularly liked You’re My Best Friend by Queen, and I’m Holding on for a Hero by Bonnie Tyler. The latter one also has audience interaction in which the girls make the whole audience stand up, and then the ladies sit down.
From there, through a list of questions they eliminate the men who do not come up to their standards. Very funny. I made my other half stay standing up as they rattled off the list and only when they got to “shops at Aldi” was he allowed to sit back down. Needless to say, there were no men left standing by the end of it, so they just grabbed the nearest bloke.
The Dolls’ costumes were bright, very pink (except for Bethan who has opted for a sexy tartan number with striped socks reminiscent of Pippi Longstocking and bustier). The Princess Doll was decked out in a stunning princess outfit – full mutton chop sequinned sleeves and hooped dress, while the Over Achiever Doll was in a very tight, pink vinyl two piece (jacket and skirt) with a sequinned silver top underneath.
The stage, in the Memory Tank theatre at the Powerhouse, is a small, intimate, three-quarter round, which means that the audience are up close and personal to the show. It was jam packed with props. A huge doll’s box took up the centre back stage on opening; a piano sat to stage right back decorated with large pink bows. An enormous pink blow-up swan sat in front of the piano and there was a toilet stage left front stage, as well as a high chair, baby dolls, oversized blow-up champagne bottle, cocktail glasses and baby bottle. All this, and the microphone stands, made for a stage which was a hazard in the making, but which the three ladies traipsed around in their stilettos with no problem at all. The doll’s box also opened up to line the back stage displaying each of the girl’s names.
Doll, is a riot of colour, laughter and silliness from the opening number of this cabaret show. I thoroughly enjoyed it and the hour long performance was spot on. Not too much and not too little. I for one will be looking forward to seeing this trio again in their next show.