A Figment In The Elsewhere #2: Dickie Beau

-being another in an ongoing series detailing stand-out acts that have ‘appeared’ at The Double R Club (often more than once); acts that Rose Thorne and I love, that seem to typify in some way, or stand as emblems for, just what it is The Double R have attempted to do, to be, displays that went some way to describing our own particular brand of ‘Lynchian’, over the last 100 shows and nine years…

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[pic by Gh0stdot]

This time: Dickie Beau and his Judy act.

First appearing at The Double R in January  of 2011, Dickie Beau’s was an act we had seen snippets of online but were in no way prepared for the incredible emotional impact of. Gay culture (and culture as a whole) of course abounds with Judy Garland this and Judy Garland that, tributes and parodies, drag acts and homages, to the point where it is a sold gold cliché. So to not only attempt such a thing but to transcend expectations so successfuly, so movingly, is as rare as hen’s teeth. Beau’s act does this and more.

Dickie Beau, sometimes called a ‘Drag Fabulist’, is arguably the best lip-syncher in the world. Perhaps understandably nervous of the all too prolific term ‘lip-synch’, Beau explains that what he does is really much more “about channeling the voices,” and when you see him perform you realise that this is exactly what he does. This isn’t a joke or a gimmick, this isn’t buying into, or cashing in on, hip, post-Drag Race culture, this is something else entirely.

In his Judy act he appears as a strange amplification and refraction of Garland’s Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, dressed in ruby red, pigtails and all, and after an intro to Britney Spears’ ‘Gimme More’, Beau then proceeds to ‘channel’ tape recordings made by Garland aged 41, recorded for a memoir she never wrote, and which descend into a mixture of slurred words, bluster, humour, self-pity and the true, gut-wrenching sadness of a life lived and now gone, of a childhood stolen, of past glories forever in the rearview mirror, and of a woman facing the façade that the world sees and knowing the pain of the woman behind that façade:

“I might admit defeat at this point. I doubt it. I have a tenacity of a preying mantis.”

“I’ve just about got it made, all I have to do is talk and all you have to do is listen, and believe me the way you believed me when I sang all the songs, well now I’m talking and listen to me for goodness sakes. Don’t make a joke of me anymore.”

The way Garland says (and the way Beau channels) this last line will tear your heart out.

In fact the way Beau embodies this refraction of Garland, utilising a mixture of lip-synch, physcal theatre / mime, even slapstick, is easily among the best things I have ever seen on any stage, anywhere, either in cabaret or theatre. It’s truly astonishing.

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[pic by Soulstealer]

POST SCRIPTUM…

Some years later I was lucky enough to work with Dickie in his Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award winning show, the disturbing Camera Lucida at the Barbican, London:

“Taking inspiration from funereal rituals, spiritualism and the history of image-making Dickie Beau builds on his shtick of “playback” performance: by dissecting, then re-membering, found sound artefacts in the creation of a virtual script, he conducts a kind of psychedelic cyber-seance in his directorial debut. The result is an eerie on-stage archive comprising salvaged recordings of those who might be lost, or are no longer living.”

This brief insight into Beau’s methodology, discipline and practise served as an invaluable tool in my subsequent cabaret performances and was one of the best performative experiences of my career.

~ by benjaminlouche on December 6, 2018.

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