Assembly @ Assembly Hall
6-30 August (ex.17, 24) 18.20
“Isn’t it amazing how superficial things can make you feel so good?” asks Robyn Peterson, former couture model, primetime actress and star of this new one-woman exposé of the world of 1970s High Fashion.
‘Yes!’ thrills the naughty masses! And so, a show is born…
Catwalk Confidential charts the rise of Peterson’s precocious 16-year-old self from Miami Beach (“where neon goes to die”) to the darling of Parisian haute couture, shuttling from Lagerfeld to Laurent with only her natural wiles and the three designer ‘Cs’ (cocaine, cigarettes and champagne) to accompany her.
Robyn Peterson of the stage is one spunky Southern ma’am (imagine Marilyn Monroe and Philip Marlowe meeting on the set of ‘The Fly’). She plays the screwball ingénue with panache, delivering her tale in the sort of romantic pulp-magazine speak of a Roy Lichtenstein print – although this analogy oversimplifies dialogue that effortlessly vacillates between evoking sun-drenched Miami boulevards, to sending-up the snarkiest of catwalk queens. Smart woman, she’s realised all any audience really want is a good nosey backstage; not the full gory disclosure; just a quick peek into that marked ‘Off limits for ordinary individuals, with hips, greed and BMIs above twenty’. So, we indulge in some glitzy voyeurism, whilst Peterson smoothes over the sleaze with a sharp line in innuendo and self-effacing wit.
This gives a strange double-exposure to Catwalk Confidential. For all that her dialogue is articulate, wry and hugely entertaining, it is easy to forget that what Peterson is doing is playing herself. The darkness is performed not relived. She bowls through these difficulties, however, much in the same way – I’m sure – she charmed and exasperated fashion’s big enchiladas: peaking mischievously back over her shoulder through a mass of curls so damn bouncy Newton’s law seems laughable… ‘A ha ha!’ they cry, ‘You cannot stop us, you silly little ‘eeenleeesh science-man! For we sit upon the ‘ed of ze amazing Robiiin Peteerson!!!’