Cabaret Festival Review: Carmen – Live or Dead

Meet Carmen Frida Leon Davidovich – the fictional love child of the famed Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo and Russian revolutionary and Communist, Leon Trotsky. She is sensual, intelligent, audacious and wry, and she is also intersex, having been born with both male and female genitalia.

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Presented by Adelaide Festival Centre
Reviewed 20 June 2018

Attention chicas, Carmen is here to show you how to celebrate the differences that make us special in an eccentric and enriching show that will leave its audience in awe.

Meet Carmen Frida Leon Davidovich – the fictional love child of the famed Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo and Russian revolutionary and Communist, Leon Trotsky (oh what a relationship that would have been). She is sensual, intelligent, audacious and wry, and she is also intersex, having been born with both male and female genitalia.

This is, sadly, the last day of her life, and she wants to take the audience on her reflective journey of discovery through the many chapters of her existence. From a surrendered child in a Monastery to clubbing in Morocco, surviving the fight of being a Mexican refugee, meeting the love of her life and also discovering the truth about her body, Carmen is an edgy, entertaining and thought-provoking story of both identity and survival.

Nothing is off-topic on this wild ride as Carmen discusses the anatomy of gender (including the dilation of a vagina), her parents’ wild sex life and the correct term for having both genitalia (hermaphrodite is a no, but intersex is a yes). Her songs are very similar with lyrics like “Viva Hermaphrodite!” and “my sex has come inside me” the norm of the show.

Lead actress, Natalie Gamsu, is truly outstanding as the show’s intersex protagonist who is searching the world for not only love and adventure, but somewhere she feels she belongs – a home. It is clear that this journey is relatable for Gamsu, as she eccentrically embodies the fictional love child sauntering around the stage. Her voice is also impressive as she brings life to what would otherwise be merely bizarre lyrics.

The set is a multilayered backdrop full of pictures inspired by Kahlo’s famous style of painting which depict the artist herself, Trotsky, a family tree and much more. Despite the eye-catching background, Carmen is still very much the centre of attention, dressed in a giant flower crown, bright red lipstick, black latex boots, a tight bustier, a Kahlo-inspired cage-like contraption on her hips and a bejewelled groin-piece (yes, you read that correctly).

A show that celebrates the beauty of being different through humour, eccentricities and grace, Carmen throws the idea of gender to the wind and instead focuses on what it’s like to be human.

Reviewed by Georgina Smerd
Twitter: @Georgie_xox

Rating out of 5: 4.5

Venue: The Banquet Room, Adelaide Festival Centre, Adelaide, 5000
Season: 20 – 21 June
Duration:  75 mins
Tickets:  $37 – $52
Bookings: https://www.adelaidecabaretfestival.com.au/events/carmen-live-or-dead/

https://www.adelaidecabaretfestival.com.au/
https://www.adelaidecabaretfestival.com.au/events/carmen-live-or-dead/

 

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