Home Theatre REVIEW: Them Fatale (NZ Worldwide Comedy Pageant)

REVIEW: Them Fatale (NZ Worldwide Comedy Pageant)

REVIEW: Them Fatale (NZ Worldwide Comedy Pageant)


Photograph by Andi Crown

[Salacious Satire]

Do you wish to discover out the place your god-shaped gap is and why Jesus is definitely a lesbian? Possibly you simply desire a tantalisingly good evening on the theatre. Offered as a part of the NZ Worldwide Comedy Pageant, James Penwarden’s stand-up present Them Fatale will depart you dripping moist with laughter.

Just like the lethal Noir seductress eluded to by the present’s title, Penwarden enchants us with their charismatic presence as quickly as they enter the stage. They maintain the area with mesmeric surety, at all times a flirtatious sparkle of their eye, and proudly proclaim the multitudes they include. Like a hapless Noir protagonist, I’m hooked. 

Them Fatale is a velvety firecracker of a present – attractive, enjoyable, and intelligent. Penwarden by no means misses a single beat, taking us on a journey by way of Catholicism, identification and queer polyamorous intercourse. They tease us with a guitar, sprinkling songs all through and slowly ramping up every part till we’re good and prepared. Each joke is witty and exactly delivered. The place some comedy units may lull as they transition from one part to the following, Penwarden’s writing is constantly partaking and clean, making a cohesive entire that deftly holds their multifaceted nature.

Penwarden makes use of their non-binary identification as each a uniting theme and a jumping-off level to discover the ambiguities in human relationships. What does it imply to have homosexual intercourse whenever you’re non-binary? When a straight (cis) particular person dates a non-binary particular person, has their sexuality modified? Penwarden supplies no straightforward solutions to such questions, as a substitute subtly prodding at our want to put issues into easy classes. Their very existence is an instance of why this isn’t solely futile but in addition denies the elemental complexity of human nature and want. It’s the many shapes and kinds that want can take, and the (generally awkward) realities of enacting such want, that gives the majority of the hilarious and deeply relatable materials.

In fact, their experiences may not be so relatable for everybody; the principle demographic for this present is undoubtedly queer of us. However the friction between societal expectations and the messy and fluid realities of relationships is definitely one thing we will all perceive. It’s refreshing to see such sensible comedy exploring the character of the queer expertise and maybe bringing this perception to new audiences. As a cis, straight girl I can say I discovered the present thigh-slappingly humorous and really relatable. Certainly, when Penwarden sings about straight girls who want they had been homosexual I really feel personally spoken to, and possibly just a little confused as a result of these suspenders they’re sporting are actually attractive and… I digress. 

Confusion was a significant theme in Them Fatale – from the confusion that inevitably ensues when one questions norms of gender and intercourse, to spiritual confusion, to the confusion of different folks when one tries to elucidate one’s identification, and (after all) the facility of Penwarden’s excellently-chosen outfit to sexually confuse your complete viewers. Their black velvet jacket, lacy corset and boxy trousers, together with the pink lipstick they sport, offers cabaret vibes, evoking an extended theatrical custom of gender blurring, à la Marlene Dietrich or Joel Gray. However in all this discuss of confusion, I by no means as soon as felt misplaced. Moderately, I felt anchored by Penwarden’s confidence and the fantastically crafted journey this present takes.

The Basement Studio was a superb venue for the piece, offering an intimacy that highlighted Penwarden’s pure charisma. The extra critical, heartfelt moments had been well-earned, and the present managed to strike an ideal steadiness between difficult and empowering, and being satirical and foolish. James Penwarden is definitely a comedy star on the rise.

Them Fatale performs the Basement Theatre 16-Twentieth of Could 2023 



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