From the moment Rizo opens her lips the audience is bewitched. Slipping onstage in a feathered cloak, flapper headdress and long, sequinned gloves, she is old-Hollywood glamour from head to toe, but it is her voice that truly captivates – a breathtaking fusion of the power of Edith Piaf, the soul of Nina Simone and the earthiness of Janis Joplin.
Yet this chanteuse is far more than a singer. The queen of alternative cabaret electrifies in that magical space between music, theatre and comedy, creating an experience brimming with sensuality and joy, with a healthy dose of audience interaction thrown in.
Accompanied by a brilliant five-piece band, Rizo enthrals her audience with a mix of soul classics, original songs and even a Streisand gem. Whether paying tribute to her diva ancestors or impressing with her own compositions, such as her pandemic-inspired Jungian pop-anthem, she is simply mesmerising.
Having recently passed a milestone birthday, Rizo revels in feeling the power of having all the feminine archetypes within her grasp – maiden, mother and crone. With the wild exclamation that “darkness is my playground”, she entreats us to celebrate the solstice’s longest night before we join her in chanting a spell to change the US laws and reinstate the abortion rights conveyed in Roe vs Wade.
Much of the deliciousness of this performance lies in the spaces between the songs and the spells Rizo casts over the audience. She glides between the tables, her interactions all hilarious yet consent-focussed, managing to stroke, fondle and slow-dance with audience members, yet always with their approval and acknowledgement of the power differential between them and the enchantress with the microphone.
Rizo takes the perspective she gained from surviving the pandemic and infuses it into her show. While her musical choices swing from classics like Cole Porter’s “Love For Sale” to bringing the house down with her original anthem “Song of Freedom”, she is clearly relishing her place in the middle. Middle age, the mid-point between pre and post-COVID – Rizo sees the middle as the point of connection, and connection lies at the heart of both her show and her artform.
Her band deserve special accolades. From the opening bass-driven number, they were magnificent, as both musicians and backing vocalists. With most members hailing from Adelaide, the ensemble was soulful and flawless: Kyrie Anderson on drums, bassist Dylan Paul, Tom Noonan on saxophone, clarinet and flute, keyboardist Dave McEvoy, and guitarist and musical director Simon Rudston-Brown.
With the wounds of the pandemic still fresh, the impetus behind this show is Rizo’s concern for the psychological health of the world. Her final number delves into the emotional and mental vulnerabilities brought out by sustained lockdown. She creates a truly fabulous headdress from mirrors, its magnificence undermined by its dark symbolism of the dangers of isolation and unrelenting self-reflection.
Having seen the way “darkness creeps in like a public masturbator in a yoga class”, Rizo puts her faith in cabaret as an artform that can cure the epidemic of loneliness by fostering joy and social connection. Prizmatism is Rizo’s magical antidote for loneliness, and she casts this powerful spell with lashings of soul, sass and sensuality.
Prizmatism is being presented again on June 22 and June 24 in the Adelaide Festival Centre’s Banquet Room as part of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, which continues until June 24. See more stories and reviews on InReview’s Cabaret Festival page.
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