Perth Fringe – Tomas Ford: Electric Cabaret

Tomas Ford Photo:  Shaun Ferraloro
Tomas Ford
Photo: Shaun Ferraloro

Let me state firstly that I did not ‘get’ this show at all.

No one can dispute that Ford is clever or deny his audience manipulation; I just resented it.

A youthful audience, many of whom were repeat visitors, judging by their quick responses to Ford’s commands, lapped it up.

A sweetly compliant girl was drawn onstage to hold the microphone for a crooning Ford. She played her part with charm.

Onstage there was a sound desk with a screen above on which various images were projected. It was a high tech presentation with Ford at the controls. Small messages flashed on the screen indicating when applause were necessary.

These synched into the message “Get out of my face or I will f**k you up!” This saw Ford crowd climbing the steep rake of the small cinema-turned-theatre venue and eyeballing patrons in a threatening manner. I was reminded of my first encounter with a live Rocky Horror Show performance. Perhaps that was Ford’s intent; to shock us out of our middle-class torpor.

An image of bloodied bandaged hands came onto the screen. These were unwrapped gradually, but not to the actual wounded digits, thankfully. The images were accompanied by a swelling chorus, “Perhaps you should apologize to me!” As instructed we all sang along. I must give him points for bullying / bluster of the first order. He told us what to do and we complied.

After a compulsory Mexican wave, Ford moved to a Radiohead musical moment where he would allegedly “disappear completely”. He didn’t which was puzzling.

A sudden switch to a Popeye-like cartoon character and a gorgeous cartoon showgirl figure who ululated before us. We were suddenly on The Love Boat.

“Someone Make the Drinking Stop” seemed to have a wisp of making sense after the aforementioned parade of peculiar vignettes.

But there was more confusion to come! After herding the audience down to a small space near the exit doors, Ford managed to entreat them to allow him to crowd surf him out the doors, along the halls, down the stairs to high five the doorman.

Stunned! Gobsmacked! You bet!

We didn’t really enjoy the experience. But we were acquiescent. We obeyed.

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