Review: The Rocks Village Bizarre
November 20th 2015
It was an inauspicious night for leaving the house, let alone visiting the Rocks to investigate the Village Bizarre.
Nonetheless, we few brave souls who dared to brave the driving wind and rain gathered at The Push, a quiet, cozy little bar down near the end of Elizabeth Street. There we were plied with food and drinks by friendly members of the Harbour Foreshore Authority while the evening’s plan was explained to us: a guided tour through the myriad wonders of the Village Bizarre, an end-of-year festival held throughout all of the Rocks.
I admit to being skeptical at first — a three-hour tour of some performers and markets in the pouring rain? — but I needn’t have worried.
Our first stop took us past some of the shops lodged in those curiously antiquated buildings which populate the entire Rocks district: Ugg, Joe Bananas, Cosette. But we weren’t there just to get a jump on the Christmas shopping — inside the windows of these stores were dancers, doing their thing as passers-by stopped to watch, open-mouthed. One of them was an enthusiastically bobbing and shaking performer covered in a giant tube decorated with yellow tinsel.
Performers where you least expected them were to become a theme of the night. For the Village Bizarre, the Rocks had become infested with singers, dancers, and the charming junkyard instruments and droll expressions of the members of Cabaret Sasquatch.
There was even an affable shyster called Professor Mac the Snake-Oil Merchant, selling miracle cures for any ill and charging ‘only the cost of bringing such rare ingredients across the seven seas.’
And when I say infested, I mean that performers were crammed into every nook and cranny of the Rocks. Inside an alleyway, a mysterious kimono-draped figure purrs pop-ballad intimations about the poison lurking in their devil’s cup; a trio of macabre Victorian tramps in fancy get-up called the Sepia Jezebels utter discordant meows at unwitting pedestrians; a gigantic inflatable man is borne aloft by a group of handlers in bubble suits.
Everywhere you go is mayhem of the best sort.
There is a lot to do at the Village Bizarre apart from just watch the performers. I was actually a little disappointed during the tour because there were so many things I wanted to stop and experience more fully before moving on to the next thing.
One of the most interesting is Kamikaze Couture, where the costumer sizes you up and picks a character for you to inhabit.
Essentially you hand over your clothing and get costumed up with the understanding that for the next couple of hours, you will embody that character fully, with nowhere else to be but in the moment.
There are a million and one more weird and exciting things happening down at the accurately-named Village Bizarre, but rather than explaining them all here, I encourage you to run down on a Friday night and check them all out for yourself.
– Sam Baran
WHAT: The Rocks Village Bizarre
WHEN: Every Friday, 6:30-10pm, 13 November – 18 December 2015
WHERE: Various locations around The Rocks
HOW MUCH: Free – check out the program here