From queer Melbourne Theatre group, Sisters Grimm (Ash Flanders and Declan Greene), comes Summertime In The Garden Of Eden. This play is an absurdly funny, un-pc tale of deceit, Deep South society drama and drag.
Set in decaying confederate America, Summertime follows debutant Daisy May Washington (a beard-clad Agent Cleave), ailing drag king father Big Daddy (Bessie Holland) and house slave Mammy (represented via the intentionally crude yet divinely inappropriate puppetry of Genevieve Giuffre). Scandal strikes the gender-swapped family when ten-year-absent sister, Honey Sue (Berlin-based drag artist Olympia Bukkakis) returns upon news Big Daddy won’t make it through another summer. Then through twists, turns and dynamite timing we learn what happened in the family greenhouse, AKA Garden of Eden, on that fateful summer night ten years ago.
Taking much inspiration from lush tragedies of fallen, powerful women that gay culture obsesses over (think Gone With The Wind and Suddenly, Last Summer), this work is almost flawless in its adaptation to a 2013 audience. From the set to lighting, costume to the mid-play mime of Savage Garden’s The Animal Song, the entire performance is a hoot. Bukkakis needs to work on her Southern accent a little, but that’s it. It’s also fantastic to see Griffin Theatre’s intimate setting being used to its best advantage.
The play is no doubt controversial – Mammy the slave is literally a foot-high black-faced doll controlled by a white woman with cornrows – and we see some pretty hot man-on-man-in-dress action. A delicious and rip-roaring 65 minutes, Summer In The Garden Of Eden, is an apple you’ll want to take one big fat bite out of.
BY JACK ARTHUR SMITH