Nine is my favourite number. It's also now the number of full-length productions that the brains (and beauties) behind YUMMY have presented, so it was pretty much a given that I would love this instalment by the team, Joy Machine.
As usual, the founder of YUMMY, Valerie Hex is here to oversee the proceedings and get the crowd pumping for some euphoric drag, burlesque, circus and performance art.
Founding members are still part of the ensemble but YUMMY has also become a playground for emerging and up-and-coming artists to show the audience what they've got. The talent that Val has assembled is the performance artist equivalent of The Avengers.
Each week of Joy Machine has a rotating cast and this one did not disappoint. Under the watchful eye of Val, Hannie Helsden, Jandruze, Karlee Misi and Jarred Dewey deliver awe-inspiring acts with unbridled self-expression and freedom. Each of them displays tremendous panache with their stage personas that further heightens the excitement for the audience and the breadth of variety on offer. Helsden is the super cheerful one that never loses her smile, Jandruze is the ice queen who will easily cut you down to size, Misi is the energetic ball of fun and Dewey is the sensual yet sexual vintage strongman.
It's clear why Misi is the reigning Miss Burlesque NSW, as she puts on two vivacious routines that capture the essence of the art form. Dewey's pole and contortionist acts are mind boggling as you witness the speed at which he can manipulate his body and the strength that he possesses. Jandruze presents some tantalising drag numbers and Helsden achieves masterly undertakings with hula-hoops. Val also takes the spotlight with a comical drag act that focuses on domestic bliss, and a few Drag Storytime sessions with the standout being “The Very Hungry Power Bottom”.
The costuming is second to none with decorative detailing, bright colours and absurdly creative concepts on display, including Val's Melbourne tram inspired dress and a cheeky showgirl outfit worn by Misi.
If YUMMY have attempted to demonstrate any kind of message with its shows, it has been to always embrace everything we are and not hide any parts of ourselves. We are all amazing, wonderful humans just the way we are and want to be, and expressing that - like we see happen in Joy Machine - is ultimately what is going to lead to our own joy machines.
Venue: Trades Hall, Cnr Lygon & Victoria Sts, Carlton
Season: until 21 October | Wed- Sat 9:30pm, Sun 8:30pm
Duration: 60 minutes
Tickets: $36 Full | $31 Concession | $27 Hump Day Wednesday
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival