Remember Bardot? The Spice Girls? What about NSYNC, or any other dance group marketed towards teens toward the end of the 1990s and early 2000s? If you were thinking about seeing Atomic Kitten or B*Witched, sorry, that was a few weeks ago - but while you still have the chance to sate your teen pop dance group needs, then there's still a chance to do so, with the best teen pop dance group to form since the fall of the Soviet Union!
Sydney based collective Baby Boy Bolognese's show 'PeaceByPeace - The Rise And Fall' takes what made all of the aforementioned pop groups great, tears it all apart and reconstructs their own satirical take on it in the guise of of the titular group, PeaceByPeace.
But this wasn't a contest about the most bold and brash set. The group's ability to represent each different clichéd member of the classic 90's dance pop group - the flamboyant leader, the posh AND sporty one (take that, Spice Girls), the idiot, the silent charmer, the bad-ass (who secretly loves literary classic The Rainbow Fish), and the brainy albeit emo one.
Of course, these characters of PeaceByPeace have been manufactured for public consumption - the silent charmer Lief is a religious fanatic for instance, while on the contrary, the self-proclaimed leader in Blain comes off both visually and personality-wise as a teenaged version of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia's Dennis Reynolds, in all the right ways. On top of this, there's PeaceByPeace's Texan oil baro- er, manager in Mr. Big Bucks who pushes the band to success as quick as he wants to draw his guns. Oh yeah, everyone's favourite Sydney Olympics pop star Nikki Webster is involved too. That is, if Nikki Webster took up smoking at the age of 8 and had a voice to rival Patty and Selma.
As the show unfolded across the time period of 1998 to 2002, the initial shallowness of the characters was masked by passion for success, before the character development was sent hurling into wackiness at a breakneck rate. While there was significant focus on the internal frictions that grew within the group, as highlighted by the four musical numbers that the group performed.
In saying that, much like character development, the music itself went from being borderline cheesy at the very beginning, to outlandishly ridiculous at the very end. Classic teen pop-by-numbers themes of love were omnipresent; however, the metaphors continued to get more and more absurd, leading to the audience going berserk with laughter before, during, and after the third song - a slightly controversial one to say the least (hint: it's to do with 2001). The musical numbers accelerated the directions of both the show itself, but also PeaceByPeace's turbulent career.
After the show, I had a brief chat with Davis Murphy, who played the token idiot (but also slightly psychotic) in the form of Bodie, particularly about certain props used onstage. Without revealing spoilers for what transpired, Murphy spent a great deal of time eating fast food through the show. When asked about the total of food consumed on stage, his figures were 7 cheeseburgers and 10 chicken nuggets, with a grand total of $47.10 spent on the food props alone for the performance. It was this high regard towards showmanship, as well as a total and utter disregard by Murphy towards his own metabolism, that defined 'PeaceByPeace' as a whole - underneath the black humour and acerbic wit, there was a deft seriousness towards the approach that surrounded the performance, with every character and cliché being exaggerated toward the point of stupidity. But then, wasn't that what teen pop groups like the Spice Girls and NSYNC did to begin with?
Baby Boy Bolognese Presents: PeaceByPeace - The Rise And Fall is running at Tuxedo Cat on February 21 and 24. More details can be found here. For more about Baby Boy Bolognese, check out their Facebook page here.
Header image via Baby Boy Bolognese's Facebook page.