This year has been incredibly challenging for many reasons. One of which has been isolation from friends, family, and (potential) lovers. So how has this time alone been for the Italian stallion of Melbourne’s northern suburbs? Has quarantine tempered his steamy ways or only fanned the flames of his passions?
In Wooing People in Isolation, drag king Silvio Di Baci (Maria Dunne) continues his quest for love with an old schoolyard crush, his best friend, and a new surprise interest. In the online streaming format with an attached audience chat feature, Silvio sets the scene with John Travolta gifs before announcing his decision to quit the “ladies man” life and find something real. This performance combines the confessional tone of a man reformed with the suave arrogance of someone used to getting what he wants. Silvio certainly has a “Let me explain this to you” energy which would be aggravating if Silvio weren’t such a softie.
Over the course of the evening Silvio suffers two major blows through rejection from a vintage crush Gloria and the decision to take space away from his best friend Matteo. But Silvio knows exactly what to do to keep his spirits up: dance. Even if it means dancing through the streets of Misery Village, Silvio knows shaking all the feelings out are the best way to get him feeling like himself again.
The structure of the performance swung from stand-up comedy to dance to a more raw story-telling mode that seemed largely aimed at building a sense of community between audience and performer rather than care-free entertainment. The show was constrained to the possibilities of an online performance which drastically hindered Dunne’s ability to read and work off of audience responses. This impacted the performance with some awkward pacing and flat deliveries but the loose narrative Dunne strung between the show’s elements helped keep up momentum.
Ultimately, Wooing People in Isolation painted Silvio as a gentleman with a deep desire for love and connection. In a moment of vulnerability, Silvio shared a story of workplace sexual harassment that fit uneasily in the comedy genre of the show but demonstrated the overall message of support and understanding Silvio stands for. With a live, in-person audience, Silvio would have had more opportunity to show off his cheeky banter and strut his stuff.
Wooing People in Isolation was streamed online from November 19th – 21st as part of Melbourne Fringe Festival
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