Over the past few weeks, Em Rusciano has been branded by the Australian media as (to put it kindly) a diva, due to a shit storm sparked by her colourful comments about the Sydney media culture and community. Even though she firmly and thoroughly said throughout her Adelaide Cabaret Festival show Difficult Women that she was NOT a diva, the show only proved she was... but in all the best ways.
The show provided a platform for the somewhat silenced Em to vent her frustrations, her heartbreak, and her humour at being a literal reflection of the title of her show, through music and comedy. With the night kicking off with not one but two runs of the opening number “I’m A Motherfucking Woman”, it set the tone for the evening – that it would be loud, vulgar, aggressive, emotive, powerful and inspiring, just like Em. What followed was a side-splitting uncensored stand-up session about everything from Oprah’s 'average' day, to trimming your pubes with blunt Crayola scissors; interspersed with songs by iconic difficult women in show business, and by assorted artists that have impacted Em and/or her family.
A highlight of the evening was watching Em force her parents Vincie and Jenny up onstage to dance to their song Stevie Wonder’s ‘Do I Do’, as Em sang it in tribute to them. The set list was varied and sensationally performed by Em and her 15 piece band, including musical director Chong Lim, her hero John Farnham’s original guitarist Brett Garsed, and a good serve of Adelaide talent.
All up, Em presented a show that was intended to demonstrate she was NOT a diva, but in fact did the opposite. She revealed to her audience that just like a diva, she has a trademark look so incredible it warrants a costume change (in Em’s case, bright red body-hugging jumpsuits to a breezy-round-the-butt-cheeks ball gowns). She has a specific sound and set list that sets her apart, with an astounding arsenal of sassy banter and outrageous stories. She has a dedicated fan-base that would stand by her endlessly, and she can produce a truly high quality performance. Never has being a difficult woman been so divine.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Thumbnail image via Adelaide Cabaret Festival site