Review of KillJoy: Destroy The Fantasy

4 February 2018

On these stinking hot Melbourne nights, one may wander the streets in search of a salve for the sleepless hours ahead. On this particularly stifling January night, myself and an intimate group of salve-seekers gathered together to experience KillJoy: Destroy the Fantasy. Presented as part of the annual Midsumma Festival, the KillJoys are a collective of queer theatre-makers that aim to confront, arouse, and agitate. They are Cat Scobie, Amy Broomstick (Bam Bam) and Mahla Bird—three entertainers that combine stand-up, physical theatre, cabaret, burlesque and science to create an engagingly political work.

We found them at the Collingwood-based Melba Spiegeltent: a glitzy throwback to the dance halls and travelling circus tents of the roaring ‘20s, complete with art deco mirrors and ornate architraves. Plus, there’s a live band and a new special guest every night.

Admittedly, I had chosen to come on this night solely for the special guest: the velvety voiced-goddess Mama Alto. Mama’s house-raising performance of ‘Proud Mary’ didn’t disappoint, but I found myself most affected by the work of the KillJoys and their stellar live band.

The repertoire on display is a queer-feminist hybrid machine—each performer bringing their unique creative backgrounds and raw lived experiences to the stage. A highlight for me was a recurring piñata metaphor, posing questions of what it means to have and what it means to want. This metaphor was later used to confront the issue of autonomy and what it feels like to be seen only for what you can give.

Funny, daring—and at times deliciously uncomfortable—KillJoy serves up exactly what it says on the packet—a destruction of fantasies about women, for women, and by women. There are some acts in particular that push boundaries more than others—acts about domestic violence, cat calling, body image. Perhaps my only qualm, however, is they didn’t push boundaries far enough.

When the time and space becomes available for saying more about queer and feminist issues, as it is doing now with movements like the online phenomena #MeToo, it would be remiss not to take current opportunities to push even further. Performers like the KillJoys now have a relatively safe platform with which to bluntly tackle the issues they press upon in their acts. Just like their band sang during the piñata act, “I want candy, and I want it to shatter and slice and surprise.”

There is a line the KillJoys are delicately toeing and I think it’s really time to push off. I certainly hope acts like theirs continue to get ferocious support so that one day they can say what needs to be said on the mainstage of queer and feminist issues.

You can check out details of the show here.

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