Presented by Adelaide Festival Centre
Reviewed 24 June 2016
Being funny is serious business.
Comedians and comedic actors can make big bucks in the entertainment industry and reach heights of fame and respect like no other profession. However, there’s a bit of a historical issue to confront when we realise that most of our beloved comedy stars are men and that women have generally been relegated to a certain set of roles: the ditzy blonde, the quirky fat lady, etc.
Debora Krizak, a powerful and prolific Adelaidian star in her own right, breaks the mould in Laugh be a Lady. She champions funny women, fights for the right for ladies to use fart jokes and attacks the stereotypes that, for too long, kept women as sidekicks of comedy. She does this by marvellously transforming herself into some of the most iconic female stars in history, including Carol Burnett, Lucille Ball and Phyllis Diller.
Krizak is glowing on-stage, super confident and in-control even when things spiral out of control (“It’s the world premiere, something’s bound to go wrong!”). Her costume changes are simple, yet effective, but the thing that really brings her characters to life are her accents, which she can switch-up on the fly. They may be a bit exaggerated of course, but hey, she’s giving her subjects a larger than life treatment. Krizak’s Phyllis Diller impersonation is particularly hilarious, capturing her trademark raspy laugh well.
Krizak’s performance isn’t just for laughs, though. In a mad, feather and sequin filled explosion, followed by a sombre note, Krizak is really asking us “how far have we come?” The subtle question hits hard. The show is really a tribute to the women who made the progression to this point possible, Krizak explains. Without Betty White, without Joan Rivers, we might not have Tina Fey or Kitty Flanagan. The world’s been made richer by funny females.
Andrew Worboys’ musical direction is overshadowed a bit by Krizak’s performance, but it definitely shouldn’t go unnoticed. His piano work is a bit wild and casual, but fun and energetic, matching and enhancing the tone of the performance.
However, for an opening night performance, the energy in the small Artspace Theatre was rather lacking, forcing Krizak to work much harder to get the audience pumped up. This pressure led to a bit of messiness and a barely noticeable awkwardness between stage and crowd. Lighting also proved a bit of a distraction, with bright lights burning straight into eyes at various points of the performance.
Laugh be a Lady is a fitting tribute to the history of female-led comedy with one of our own home-grown talents at the helm.
Reviewed by James Rudd
Your Twitter: @james_wrr
Rating (out of 5): 3.5
Venue: Artspace, Adelaide Festival Centre, King William Street
Season: 24-25 June
Duration: 1 hour 10 minutes
Tickets: $24.90 – $39.90
Bookings: Book online through the Adelaide Cabaret Festival website or phone BASS on 131 246