Barbara and the Camp Dogs

Nicki Alchin
10th Dec 2017
Wrapped up in an anecdote about the gritty, rough-and-tumble Sydney music scene, Belvoir St. Theatre's latest production is the wonderful slice of life romp of two indigenous countrywomen.
Barbara and the Camp Dogs opens to an inner Sydney pub rock gig that instantly allows the audience to dive right into the lives of Barbara and Rene - played by Ursula Yovich and Elaine Connie respectively - two feisty indigenous rock n roll front women related by not only blood but also experience who are clinging together through the ups and downs  of the Sydney music scene. 
Through the brutal honesty of the opening scene the audience discovers very quickly the reality of being members of Barbara and the Camp Dogs. Barbara and Rene are not shy in telling the warts-and-all struggle they face on all fronts . However, don't be fooled into thinking you are in for a two dimensional examination of the dog-eat-dog Australian music industry. Barbara and the Camp Dogs is so much more than this. 
Be prepared for a dissection of a myriad of themes to ricochet across the boards via quick witted comedic deadly banter as Barbara and Rene encounter a number of life changing moments while coming to terms with the possibility of losing a loved one. The tight script written by Ursula Yovich and Alana Valentine reverbs with acerbic one liners that are rattled off at lightning speed by Barbara and Rene.
As the play rolls on,  the audience will continue to witness first hand how in their pursuit of the elusive permanent gig  (either solo or aa a band ), Barbara and Rene battle discrimination of both sex and race in spite of being mind blowingly talented at dishing out sultry rock ballads. A number of gutsy and raw musical performances oozing with sexiness are scattered throughout the play. Within the 90-minute non-stop action that makes up the play's entirety, these musical numbers are skilfully used to segue between the play's scenes. 
The musical talent doesn't stop with the roles of Barbara and Renee - it's in abundance from every cast member. The Camp Dogs of Jessica Dunn, Michelle Vincent, and Debbie Yap amaze with their dexterity and passion, drawing rocking and grooving tunes from their instruments.  Expect to be wowed by passionate drumming  and high voltage guitar solos that electrify the stage as each string is plucked. The role of Joseph played by Troy Brady is also another musical gem awaiting to be found. 
Audiences will appreciate Barbara and the Camp Dogs on many levels. It can be viewed as a fast paced sexy musical capturing how it is for an Australian indigenous female musician, while also giving recognition to issues relating particularly to Australia's indigenous community as well as family relationships in general.  The characteristics audiences will notice as definitely being carried through from start to finish are humour, passion and authenticity. These are all attributes any piece of live performance should strive for. 
I dare audiences to not groove along in their seats, laugh out loud or to shed a tear while enjoying the stand out production of Barbara and the Camp Dogs

Barbara and the Camp Dogs is on at Belvoir St. Theatre, Surry Hills until Saturday December 23rd. See the Sydney Scoop calendar for performance times. 

Production photo by Brett Boardman. 

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25 Belvoir Street
Surry Hills
+61 2 9699 3444