Review by Jessica Ruano
55 minutes | Musical Comedy | R
My lovely parents, reaping the benefits of cable television, asked me recently, “Have you heard of this Lady Gaga person? She is so original!” Why yes, yes I have.
So, apparently, has Matthew James Donovan, a recent graduate of the National Theatre School who preludes his solo performance of RaRa!: And Teh Boifrend That Br3ked Her Heart Up with a number of Gaga tracks. You may also recognize the name RaRa from the lyrics of Bad Romance. Ooh la la.
RaRa is a self-proclaimed pop sensation – though, as evidenced by recent ‘fan mail,’ she may be out of a job very soon – who continues with her tour, despite the fact that she recently underwent heart surgery due to a broken heart followed by a heart attack.
This is a very brave show. Dressed in a purple number with high heels and a blonde wig, Donovan is a high energy performer with a killer set of lungs, and he also wrote all the featured songs, some of them pretty catchy. Alas, the Saw Gallery is not the ideal venue for this show: it’s far too intimate for such a loud, boisterous, and – sad to say – mostly unlikeable character.
Reminiscent of the popular 2001 film Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the vain and self-absorbed RaRa uses the stage to rant and rave about her heartless boyfriend, whom she blames for all her misfortunes. But this character is far less interesting, far less intelligent, and far less sympathetic than Hedwig. With her awkward appearance and obsessive personality, RaRa seems like she should be a satirical character, but she takes herself way too seriously and yells all the time.
It’s just not fun to watch, especially when she pulls out a gun near the end: her performance becomes tasteless, bitter, and pathetic. I have a feeling this show was aiming for shock value, and I respect that. But I’ve met some pretty amazing drag characters and show queens, and this is not an individual I’d be interesting in meeting again.
RaRa!: And Teh Boifrend That Br3ked Her Heart Up plays at Venue 3 – SAW Gallery on Friday, June 17th 11:00pm, Saturday, June 18th 9:30pm, Tuesday, June 21st 6:30pm, Wednesday, June 22nd 9:30pm, Friday, June 24th 8:00pm, and Saturday, June 25th 6:30pm.