Posted by Anura Samara, 6 May 2017
What is this? Musical? Circus? Cabaret? Concert?
I’m not really sure what to make of Velvet. I had absolutely no idea what we were heading into until we sat down and the music started.
It’s not a musical, although it is certainly full of music. It’s not a circus, although some of the acts wouldn’t be out of place in a circus. It’s not cabaret or burlesque although some parts of it came close. It’s not a concert even though there was a fair bit of singing. It’s really a mash up of all three with disco music providing the strong link between all of its elements.
According to some reviews, there was supposed to be a unifying theme here about the musical and sexual awakening of the generation that grew up with disco. Looking back, I can understand that from the way the music and characters develop from innocent and quiet to the pumping tracks later in the show but I have to be honest and say I completely missed it and the time and would probably miss it again.
The cast is limited but this means that everyone gets a feature. Even the two backing vocalists get some of the limelight to themselves. The aerial acts were good, something we’re not used to seeing in the confines (both physically and culturally) of the theatre. Together with the acrobatic performances by artists mostly in a state of undress these acts combined show off their physical skills and bodies.
The most laughs were for the slightly overweight hula-hoop performer who jumped on stage appearing to be an over-enthusiastic member of the audience before proving that his was as talented as any other member of the show.
The strongest performance was from the young singer who demonstrated a strong voice that could manage across different styles, alone and with backing. His solo acoustic performance of Stayin; Alive accompanied by the ukele was fantastic. The weakest performance? I hate to say it but Marcia Hines appeared to be doing the headline act by the numbers. Her face was immobile, her body was most immobile and her costumes didn’t really suit here – she had no presence on the stage and only her strong and familiar voice saved her performance.
Throughout it was the music – the strong and lively beats of disco, the music I remember from childhood and early teens. It was the music that gave energy to the room and by the end of the show everyone was up and dancing.
Interestingly, it was all over in less than an hour and a half with no real conclusion. I left feeling slightly cheated.