Barbara and The Camp Dogs

Barbara and The Camp Dogs
By Ursula Yovich & Alana Valentine. Belvoir Street Theatre and Vicki Gordon Music Productions Pty Ltd. December 2 – 23, 2017.

Backed by a take-no-prisoners girl band called The Camp Dogs, the action of this rock-gig musical unfolds in front, across the cheap carpet, tables and lounges which have transformed Belvoir Theatre into a typical pub. It's a muso takeover, with designer Stephen Curtis also having a hand.

Ursula Yovich’s indigenous rough girl Barbara fights and banters with her saucy sister and fellow singer, Renee, in an outrageous script which bristles with Aboriginal strut and comic attack. 

Yovich is a little terror in leathers with glued down hair and Elaine Crombie brilliant as Renee, with a big heart and voice to match.  Punctuated with original rock songs (Alana Valentine, Adam Ventoura and Yovich), it begins as a riot of black campery,

But Barbara must face her demons as the sisters return home in a wild road trip to the Territory where their mother lies dying. Here Yovich’s tale, co-written with Valentine, turns darkly emotional, and the songs more soulful and yearning. It makes for a richly varied show, carried by Yovich’s husky voiced power and empathy.

Director Leticia Caceres keeps the leaps mostly fluid between the many songs and action, despite  a shift at the end from drama to monologues and an under-written scene with a lost brother (Troy Brady).

The audience however loved this show’s candour, attitude and musical mix. It's another unique one from Belvoir in a co-production with Vicki Gordon, backed by musicians Jessica Dunn, MIchelle Vincent and Debbie Yap.

Martin Portus

Photographer: Brett Boardman.

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