This time last year, drag artist Panti Bliss was in Melbourne during Midsumma Festival with her solo show, High Heels in Low Places. In 2018, Panti returns with a number of her talented friends in tow for a hugely entertaining and political evening of circus, dance, poetry and music with RIOT.
There is non-stop wonderment to be had as Panti brings together a fine selection of performers who are a joy to watch on stage. The way in which each act is devised and performed makes them feel like they are something incredibly special and affecting. Led by Panti's inviting display of warmth and humour, the entire audience feels like they are part of the show too. We are all creating something here.
Kate Brennan's spoken word on power, poverty and class divide shows how powerful words can be in showing what the world is like and fostering change. Similarly, opening night's guest performer Melbourne singer Mojo Juju performed her new song about her Indigenous and Filipino heritage to rapturous applause.
Former footballer Ronan Brady performs a cheeky striptease in his sports gear to Salt 'N' Pepa's "Whatta Man" followed by an aerial cyr wheel routine to a beautiful arrangement to Justice vs Simian's "D.A.N.C.E" sung by the four enchanting voices of The Sirens. Throughout RIOT, the group take a variety of songs from different genres and create an utterly mesmerising feast for the ears.
The Lords of Strut - Cian Kinsella and Cormac Mohally - impress with their amped 80s dancing. Their acts are hysterically far out, at one point Mohally appears as Jesus Christ and is attacked by a number of audience member bearing pool noodles. Similarly brilliant is the tap-dancing Irish jig-dancing Vaseline Dions who give a remarkable performance whilst wearing giant balloons on their heads.
While there's a lot of fun to be had with RIOT, Panti ensures that we don't just walk out having had a fabulous evening but to also feel inspired to create a change for the better in the world, to stand up for what we believe in and - most importantly - to love each other. Here's hoping Panti returns to Melbourne in 2019 with another dose of her magic.
Venue: Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne.
Season: until 9 February | Sun 5pm & 7:45pm, Tues - Wed 7:30pm, Thu - Fri 6:30pm & 9:15pm
Tickets: $30 - $89
Bookings: Midsumma Festival