Tash York: Love That For You (review)

LTFY-Peppy-Smears-Tash-York-Vivian-Fonteyn-photo-by-Mark-GambinoWhen cabaret performer Tash York sees you wearing Crocs and says “Love that for you” – maybe it’s a good look for you … or maybe it really isn’t. Just a touch of sarcasm can make all the difference. We get an exploration of this kind of mood (at times) in Tash York’s new show Love That For You.

Following the tremendously entertaining Fringe offering Tash York’s Happy Hour, York has returned with her band of dashing-yet-glam drag musicians (and sometimes backing singers), The Red Red Wines, Vivian Fonteyn on violin and Musical Director Peppy Smears on keys.

In their previous outing together, York wrung quality material out of the COVID lockdown hardships faced by Melburnians. The “world premiere” of this new work spreads its attention around a bit more than past York offerings.

The show’s Midsumma blurb begins with: “Have you ever asked yourself, am I living my life right?” – which is the kind of sentiment York’s fans may remember from past offerings like Best Lyf.

York feels that some of her life choices weren’t so good. She related through song a tale of her time in a customer service role from many years ago, although some will probably find this around the level of “minor inconvenience”.

The show had some headwinds to overcome owing to a sound mix that could bury vocals underneath the music at times. This may have caused some links between sections to be obscured.

However, all performers are very talented, and mostly the elements of music, York’s vocals, (often in “power ballads”) and harmonies combined well. Having the Red Red Wines around gave us some amusingly bitchy moments of banter.

York’s fans will know of her particular talent to improvise songs about audience members given a few details. That appeared again, yet how it fit with the show wasn’t all that clear. Although it may have seemed like a kind of “best of” show in style and ideas, there is definitely something new here.

York is a proud bisexual woman married to man, and she performs shows with a presentation style we associate with drag. She often has people question her choices or identity, making her feel that she’s in a “half space” that’s not here nor there.

Maybe if you’re not allowed into someone else’s group, you have to make up one of your own. Through song we heard of some possibilities, such as York identifying as a “DINKWAC” (Double Income No Kids With A Cat) that earned good laughs.

Although this thread of the show doesn’t get so much attention, it suggests a great opportunity to explore new ground. Even if we’ve followed Tash York for years, we don’t know answers to some basic questions, such as: Why does York feel so drawn to drag?

Even without an answer, York always looks amazing in her outfits and makeup. Her ever-growing hairstyle has now reached the point of looking like the red plumage of an exotic bird. It would be great to see this cabaret star find a course that lets her fly as high as her wings will take her.

Tash York: Love That For You
Chapel Off Chapel (Theatre), 12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran
Performance: Friday 9 February 2024
Information: www.midsumma.org.au

Image: Peppy Smears, Tash York and Vivian Fonteyn – photo by Mark Gambino