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Sunday 11 October 2015

Review: Yana Alana's Between the Cracks

Posted in: Performance
By Verity George - 10th September 2015

Got tickets to Yana Alana Between the Cracks, part of the Auckland International Cabaret Season at the Chamber!


I went online to see what to expect of the Aussie award winning feather ruffler, the rabble rouser, the cabaret provocateur, my sister watching over my shoulder thought the costume was a body-stocking but I could tell it was all just body paint.

Yana is completely starkers for the majority of the show but for blue paint and a few sequins and lacy flowers frolicking over her ample arse. When she eventually pulls off her huge frosted blue wig she has another black geisha style wig underneath, the artifice carries on. She is solid, agile as a mountain goat in heels with a set of belting pipes. Her songs sound like well-known show tunes but they are all hers.

Life is a Cabaret becomes Life is a One Woman Show. The song Crazy, in the vocal style of Adele, Yana smashes out of the park, perhaps it had to do with the tray of meds: Prozac, valium, diazapan she pretends to take before she proceeds to have to hold her head up as the drugs kick in. She does an ode to anal sex too, about coming in the front door for a change, made all the more funny by her being naked, her black fuzzy bush painted deep blue, then she gets an audience member to pull a shiny balloon ribbon from between her butt cheeks. She really is outrageous.

Early on she sits on my lap, on a blue plastic poncho, and asks me to tell her something secret so I whisper to her “I love to lick pussy” and her eyes widen and she says into the mic “That was a rhetorical question.” After the show Sylvia Rands, her vocal coach at the Actors Studio 10 years ago, suggests she ought to have repeated aloud what I’d said, “Of course” says Alana, as if it never occurred to her.

Part of the comedy is the irony of her character not being able to be spontaneous, like when she pulls a random (?) man out of the audience to replace her pianist who answered her cellphone one time too many. The humour is in her unsuccessful attempt to free flow, after all she’s clearly a power dyke who writes her own words, choreographs her own moves, produces herself, buys her own champagne, pops her own cork and gives herself her own business card. The overly competent woman whose final poignant song, “light shines through the cracks” leaves us all feeling doubtful about the veracity of this strong confident persona.

Blame is a big focus, there’s a hilarious spiel on meditation where she ends up face down on the floor smote with boredom for the process. She’s as funny as, partly because you just can’t believe she has such chutzpah. And her inability to say sorry is an opportunity to liken herself to other unapologetic types like Donald Trump, Len Brown and John Key!

10pm on a Saturday and the Concert Chamber was barely a third full, her earlier show the night before was packed out, but she sashayed between the empty tables and chairs interacting with imaginary punters, taking Auckland's inability to stay up late in her stride. Bloody marvellous.

- Verity George

Verity George - 10th September 2015

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