Adelaide Fringe 2011
Beer Drinking Woman takes the audience on a musical journey from one drink to another; and from one stage of drunkedness to the morning after and beyond. Bluesy, bawdy and full of beer; Christa Hughes’s songs will ressonate with anyone who has staggered home and vowed to never, ever drink alcohol again.
Christa Hughes – notorious blues and jazz singer, burlesque performer and cabaret entertainer – brought it all down to the lubricant that keep the wheels turning in Beer Drinking Woman.
Beer Drinking Woman tells the highs and the lows of a “lush” who consumes a steady stream of alcohol (she’s not exclusively a beer drinking woman, she will also drink whisky, wine, rum and champagne as the audience rapidly discovered). Hughes disintegrates on stage from a tight-black-dress and fake-eyelash wearing singer to a staggering drunk taking her audience down the bumpy road of excessive alcohol consumption.
Performed in the Spiegel Tent, the venue leaves nothing to be desired. High arched ceilings, stain glass windows and wooden floors crammed full of chairs; the Spiegel Tent gave the debaucherous performance an ironic tinge. Hughes falling about on stage couldn’t have been more out of place in the austere and beautiful Spiegel Tent; yet the crowd was hers for the entire performance as she made the most of the contrast between her elegant surrounds and the gluttony on stage.
Hughes performed old songs, her own new songs and some reappropriated songs that fit somewhere in between. For Hughes’ fans her own songs “Beer Drinking Woman” and “Pig Flu Blues” would have been welcome additions. It would be difficult for anyone to fault the quality of Hughes’ voice, or her capacity to engage and entertain, however the sound quality in the Spiegel Tent did leave a lot to be desired. Rather than Hughes’ voice reverberating through the Spiegel arches, it bellowed directly at the audience at a slightly uncomfortable volume.
Beer Drinking Woman is very much a one-woman (and a lot of alcohol) show; however credit is owed to Hughes’ musical director on the piano Leonie Cohen who supported Hughes through every song and anecdote.
Beer Drinking Woman took the audience on a 60 minute journey towards inebriation, but kept them engaged through a mishmash of different styles. Beginning with classic cabaret numbers, Hughes spiced up her performance with interludes of chatting, a scene where she re-enacted class film scenes paying her respect to the role of alcohol through the ages, and even a brief ditty where she handed out free booze to the crowd.
Beer Drinking Woman is a must for cabaret lovers, comedy fans and heavy drinkers. If you don’t mind a little squishy seating and a little ear-ringing after the show, Christa Hughes successfully pulls of the balance between musical entertainment and cheap and dirty alcoholic spoofs.