Opening with haunting and powerful vocals, Worship promises to be an arrangement that feels simultaneously familiar and resonant yet challenging and discomforting. Described as a cabaret, it is in some ways a storytelling variety show showcasing diverse talents that provoke questions, emotions, and introspection. It dares to take the audience beyond the conventions of a simplistic narrative arc with vignettes, some of emotional rawness which will confront and also inspire with the generosity of vulnerability revealed by the performers.
The use of minimal set and props proves no impediment for the carefully curated talented cast in evoking mood and mythology. Instead, they rely upon the skill of their bodies, their thoughtfully designed exquisite costuming, and remarkably emotive lighting. The sumptuous sense of mythos is created for each performance with little interruption to the overall ethereal feeling with acolytes serving as stage bunnies, perhaps a nod to the burlesque background of show creator Essie Foxglove.
At times, the audience eagerly responds as it grasps the themes of vanity and performative participation in the consumptive drive of social media. At other times, the audience seems subdued in responding to the charged boundary defying challenges of Ginava’s sets. The show is a masterfully designed inducement of blurring, where genres of burlesque, circus, drag, music, performance art, and voyeurism collide and veneration and deification are called into question. Inherent in the act of worship are deeply entwined concepts of power, faith, and arguably, the hopeful outcome of an alternate state. The surreal journey of Worship will prompt questions around how we engage within ourselves and one another.
It is intense and severe in its demands of its audience which is a bold act amongst the FRINGE WORLD line-up where many expect their entertainment to come served light and refreshing upon a platter. The ardent performances of Ginava, Matthew Pope, Darla Harland, Owen De Marchi, Smokey LaBare, and Essie Foxglove reverberate from one world of veneration and idolatry to another and are superbly executed. If one is bold enough to absorb this philosophical and visual feast, do not miss it.