“Oh goodness”, this one-woman biographical show, Josephine, is for darlings and sweets alike who fancy an evening of feathers, folly, and fabulousness.
Tymisha Harris was stunning and oozed remarkable artistic intent. From her flickering fingers to bright-eyed gaze, Harris could convince anyone that she is the historic Josephine Baker. The show starts with an 11-year old Baker running from danger in her neighbourhood and the audience is henceforth wooed by improvised dance, cheeky winks, and enticing burlesque. The character development right from the start, through to Baker as a civil rights advocate, was strengthened by Harris’ physical connection to character and her audience.
As for the production value, this reviewer hasn’t seen this level of lighting prowess in a cabaret setting for some time, an apparent result of the strength in collaboration from Harris, Michael Marinaccio, and Tod Kimbro. The clear hues were dramatic, like the narrative, and assisted the audience in tracing time in a tasteful and desirable way.
The costuming was second to none. Despite a costume change at almost every number, the exceptional amount and style of dress transitions complemented the story and offered a backstage look into Baker’s life. True kudos to everyone involved for the historical accuracy of this theatrical homage to a historical superstar.
Though the vocals were not the strong point throughout, the special songs were ‘The Times They Are a-Changing’ and ‘Minnie the Moocher’. The highlight for this reviewer was the delight brought from Harris’ commitment to character and facial expressions that made you feel all kinds of alive, like a warm Parisian evening.
Harris, a beautiful performer, did well to gently engage the audience but stay on script for time’s sake. The whole creative team left no stone unturned from initial welcome to Baker’s dressing room through to the final bow, that the audience had no choice but to award a standing ovation.
Saunter down to the Noel Lothian Hall, nestled in the picturesque new Fringe venue (#fringegetsclassy) of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens. This venue and its front of house really sets the scene with a welcoming and warm intent and adds beautifully to this particular show of the finer, yet tough, things of life.
The word to describe this sensual cabaret is ‘alive’. It is recommended for an 18+ audience, given the partial nudity and more adult themes. However, past this category, all will learn from and enjoy this performance, as they are reminded of the resilience of one determined woman amidst the dark truths of history.
Reviewed performance: 15 February 2020