I’m always comfortable when I’m watching a show downstairs at His Majesty’s Theatre in Perth. To begin with, there’s always a table for every patron. If you’re going alone, you can join a group of strangers, or if you’re with a group, there’s the option to book a table to yourselves.
Other great reasons for seeing a show at the semi-renovated downstairs area of the Maj is that you’re in airconditioned comfort; you get good value dining options; and the drinks list is extensive. But I digress.
The real enjoyable thing about The Maj is the variety of shows it hosts, particularly during the Fringe World Festival.
To kick off this year’s Fringe, I caught a variety of acts in ‘Club Shuffle: Aces at The Maj’. It’s a great opportunity to see snippets of a diverse range of productions – from musicals to magic, cabaret to comedy.
First up were rock opera outfit, Hell Hath No Fury. Tagged with the subtitle ‘Musical Bitchin’ From the Basement of Hell’, the show takes its cues from big shows and pop culture hits before it: Hair, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell, you get the idea… Frontwoman Zalia Joi, dressed in a glitzed-up version of Stevie Nicks’ trademark wardrobe, is a vocal powerhouse while Hell’s maître d’, played by Fiona Cooper, provides some whip-smart one-liners. The band’s very good, too, donning Alice Cooper kohl eyeliner but playing like a cross between a very decent Led Zepp cover band and goth funksters Evanescence.
This slice of rock opera made way for a little magic courtesy of Dirk Darrow, Australia’s favourite psychic detective. Darrow’s wit is on cue and his sleight-of-hand masterful, cleverly executing tricks and great with the mind games. He’ll have you wanting to study body language so that you, too, can be as clever and charming.
From magic it was back to music, with Rollin’ & Tumblin’ featuring a duo of great blues guitarists making their way through some of the genre’s classic greats. One half of the duo, Dave Hole, is considered one of Australia’s most successful blues exports, having performed for more than half a century. His pairing with seasoned local musician Glen Whisson would please even the most ardent blues aficionado and newbies to the fold, like me.
More cool covers followed, courtesy of 80s music lover Stewart Herbertson who delivers some damn good David Bowie and a gender-fluid Tina Turner. Herbertson’s show Second Shot: The 80s Edition is far from the piss-take 80s cover acts we’re used to seeing, and more of a seriously impressive tribute.
On a more comedic note, stand-up artist (and single-monikered) Cecelia recalls and re-assesses dramatic moments in her life through laughter and music, delivering tales of her two degrees of separation from Hugh Jackman and cholesterol issues.
If you’re looking for a mix of sweet and sour, dark and light, downright mystical and delightfully down-home, check out the calendar for what’s on at Aces at The Maj. Then slide into your comfy seat, order drinks from the bar, and enjoy some very decent slices of Fringe.
‘Aces at The Maj’ runs until February 12, 2022.
‘Hell Hath No Fury’ is on from January 20-22.
‘Dirk Darrow: Magic of Future Past’ is on from January 31 to February 12.
‘Rollin’ & Tumblin’ is on from January 24-29.
‘Second Shot: The 80s Edition’ is on from January 24-29.
‘Cecelia’ performs from February 7-12.
Book tickets through www.fringeworld.com.au.