Feast Review: Memoirs of a Gay-Sha

In a one-woman show, local drag queen Shania Twatt takes you behind the scenes of the lashes and sequins to meet the humans behind the glamour and illusion.

Presented by OZ Nightclub
Reviewed 22 November 2017

T’wot was that?

I’m not sure even the star, Shania Twatt, knew for sure. When she was being real, she demonstrated levels of compassion and community that I never would have expected from a drag show, but when she was performing, well…

Memoirs of a Gay-Sha is a hit-and-miss cauldron of storytelling, unscripted interaction, adult humour and pure honesty. For the most part, Shania Twatt (AKA performer Matthew Bruno) sits on the OZ Nightclub stage cussing worse than a trooper and discussing issues like thrush, drag drippers, loons and sex. It’s trash talk at the expected low-brow level with an occasional genuine laugh. It is, for the most part, little more than the kind of ho-hum dialogue one would expect from a drag queen late on a Saturday night.

Her interactions with the audience are often fun but she needs to control the unruly crowd better if she is ever to advance this potentially stellar show. A dramaturg and a director would also not go astray.

Despite the foul-mouthed too-ing and fro-ing, humanity appeared in the most unexpected way on opening night. When Twatt encountered an audience member still grieving over the death of her long-term partner, there wasn’t a moment’s hesitation in showing genuine support and compassion. Her ability to bring the entire audience with her on that momentary change of tone was a prize example of what she’s capable of.

Likewise, the show concludes with an opportunity for the audience to ask any question they like and Twatt’s honest answers were a credit to her and her profession. Topics ranged from what it’s like for a man to shop for a dress and heels, through to the time it takes to get made up and how drag impacts on her personal relationships. These are the insights that the show promised and it’s a shame that the best was left until last. Twatt had so much to say about community, love, identity and performance. It should have been the whole show.

Starting 40 minutes late, this one-hour program disappoints in many ways, not least of all being the disrespect of making an audience wait for so long with no apology. It does, however, hold a great deal of promise and I hope Twatt goes on to develop it more professionally. There is a need for such open dialogue to unite communities and promote understanding. A fun, entertaining show is an ideal forum and Shania Twatt demonstrates more than once that she’s got what it takes when she steps away from stereotypical drag behaviour. I would certainly be interested in heading back to see Memoirs of a Gay-Sha again if it’s ever refashioned up to diva quality in the future.

Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Twitter: @StrtegicRetweet

Venue: OZ Nightclub, 12 Gouger St, Adelaide
Season: 22 & 25 November 2017
Duration: 60 minutes
Tickets: $15 – $20
Suitable for ages 18+

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