Reviewed by Ellen Becker
Hidden Sydney: The Glittering Mile swallows its willing patrons and spits them out into King’s Cross’ dark and delicious underbelly. In re-purposing the winding rabbit warren of the World Bar as a pastiche of the glittering mile’s most notorious venues, Hidden Sydney absorbs us in the strip’s dirty history – World Bar after all was once the Nevada brothel, boasting the world’s largest bed… With all those private corners to sip and to sup, it’s a rather perfect setting for stealing away from the Cross’ lockout controversies into the sordid secrets of its lawless past.
As “Lying Loretta,” Ben Gerrard kicks off the tour with a glimpse into Abe Saffron’s famous and fabulous drag troupe Les Girls. Occupying the Cross from the ‘70’s to the ‘90’s, the night club claimed to make “every night New Year’s Eve!” This is one facet of the cross – a community that celebrated difference and embraced eccentricity. Sydney’s beloved bohemian Bea Miles is vibrantly performed by Virginia Gay, acting simultaneously as tour guide, Cross historian and of course, Shakespeare enthusiast. On the dark side, we’re also introduced to the mysterious artist and occultist Rosaleen “Roie” Norton. A self-proclaimed witch, Rosaleen’s “sex magic” is imagined in an entrancing performance here. The Glittering Mile doesn’t shy away from the Cross’ underworld past, speculating on Saffron’s involvement in the unsolved disappearance of prominent activist Juanita Nielsen.
The talented cast are commanding and engaging, pushing each story forward while weaving the audience into their performances. The end product is like walking into a dream, where the different fragments of your life are patched together to form a disparate but strangely cohesive fabric – oscillating seamlessly between time and tales from one room to another. Ugly and lovely, The Glittering Mile is a rare gem - don’t miss it sparkle.
The Glittering Mile is playing Wednesday through Sundays until the 9th October. For times and tickets, click here.
Photos by Jamie Williams