Ruth Wilkin had to work hard on stage on Monday night. The small theatre space inside the Tuxedo Cat hotbox was attempting to get in on some Fringe action itself by performing a very passable impersonation of a humid tropical night in some far northern Australian country town, and Wilkin had to compete with this distracting element as she fought for the small crowd’s full attention.
Her show, Tribute, centres around a very clever and appealing conceit. She sets out to track the path of a musical superstar from small beginnings in talent shows and school productions through to international mega-stardom – and then details her inevitable fall from grace in the public eye before receiving her final redemption and achieving legend status.
There is a lot of gentle humour in the monologue, and a great deal of perceptive comment on the cult of personality in our contemporary world, but it was hard not to get the impression that Wilkin was rushing through tonight’s performance in order to get out of the oppressive heat of the unventilated venue as soon as possible.
It’s a one woman show with minimal use of props, and Wilkin, an amiable and appealing stage performer, related the rags-to-riches-back -to-rags story with a good deal of energy considering the stifling conditions. Vocally, she has good pitch, projects powerfully and her original musical compositions, all of which are pastiches of typical formulaic dance music and pop balladry, are lyrically clever but, overall, a little too repetitive in style and tone.
Whilst I do not think this particular performance really ascended to any great heights, I can not deny that this show has great potential and, given a more comfortable environment for the performer, it is easy to see how it could become quite a crowd pleaser.
Ruth Wilkin performs in Tribute at the Tuxedo Cat 9:45pm nightly until 14th March. Tickets through Fringetix.
Reviewed by Ken Grady