Candy Bowers wanted all the critics to introduce their reviews by saying that Who’s That Chik? features ‘a girl in skin tight dance pants’. So if you’re expecting crisp white linen suits and the perfect diction of God of Carnage, you’re in the wrong theatre.
Candy B’s self-written, autobiographical show is billed as ‘a hip hop tale of a brown girl with big dreams’. I’m not much of a hip hop-er (RM recently had to explain Snoop talk to me….off the hizzle, for shizzle) so I didn’t really know whether I’d like the show or not. Which just proves why we should always try something new, for this brash show is high-energy, high-colour fun and Candy is an outspoken and bold talent.
The show starts with a humourous video of Candy giving some lip to Cate Blanchett, who has dared to ask Candy to collaborate with her. Candy says no – her solo show is going to blow the Sydney Theatre Company out of the water.
While the rest of the show involves audience call-and-response, booty shaking and a hilarious impression of Lionel Ritchie, the singing, dancing and hip hop beats are all a vehicle for Blasian (black-Asian-Caucasian) Candy to reflect on the melange of cultures in her family and express her political beliefs about the ‘whiteness’ of Australian performing arts. We all know that the Asian chick on Neighbours represents token diversity and any moment she’s going to get wacked from the storyline. When will a Sudanese family move into Ramsay Street? Why doesn’t prime time TV reflect the cultural diversity you see in Footscray, Maribynong and Campbelltown?
For me, the story that struck home the most was her describing her childhood growing up in suburban Dandenong, keenly aware of being different. Her memories and even her photographs reflected my childhood experiences – of being the standout Asian kid in ballet group photos, with dead straight black hair that would never fall into ringlets and passing as a German maid, Captain Logan’s English wife and a bushranger on stage.
Whether you agree or disagree with her politics, the show is uplifting and inspiring and happy. This is mostly due to the Candy’s humour and exuberance and the obvious passion with which she’s written and performed her story. It’s no mean feat that she’s able to hold the audience’s attention on her own for 90 minutes. And at the end of it, everyone – black, white, yellow, old and young – gets up to dance! It’s a joyful moment.
Thanks to the Arts Centre for inviting me to the show.