Food, sex and scandal blend well in ‘Nigella: Love Bites’
Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson has certainly had her share of mockery, particularly in the form of parodies gone wildly viral online. Comedian-come-singer Raelene Isbester brings the Nigella parodying to an altogether higher level, practically to the point of high praise.
While the jokes, puns and punchlines in Isbester’s show Nigella: Love Bites at first seem to serve as mere fun-poking in the direction of the world’s sexiest celebrity chef, ultimately there is a sense of sympathy for the real-life Nigella; an empathy for the torrid way she’d been treated by the media following her pay-the-help-to-keep-quiet-about-the-coke-snorting debacle.
Isbester’s Nigella is so sympathetic, so spot-on in character, gesture and accent, that this reviewer had to occasionally snap out of thinking it really was the genuine celeb up there on stage, talking titillatingly about the joys of food and telling us about the ups and downs of celebrity life.
There’s a joke within the show where a worn-down ‘Nigella’ begs if she could just please have a doppelganger come and replace her during the tough times. Let me just say Raelene Isbester would be the perfect look-and-sound-alike for the job.
Accompanied on piano by Perth WAAPA student, Christopher Milbourn, Isbester delivers eight original tunes, some with titles cheekier than the dirty talk heard in cut-and-paste parodies (Masterbaker, for example, sees ‘Nigella’ – and an unassuming patron plucked from the crowd – both simulating masturbation while shaking and baking in the kitchen).
Besides the brilliant jokes and enlightening anecdotes (this girl reveals some stuff even the papers didn’t dare divulge!), the main highlight of this production is the sheer power in Isbester’s voice. And. It. Is. Powerful. Not one note out of key and – you know when sometimes you hear a speedy musical number and you can’t half understand the lyrics? Well in Isbester’s very proper English accent, you understand every word to a T.
Five stars for this short and sweet musical of sorts. Indeed, it wouldn’t surprise me if the real Nigella gives the thumbs-up to Isbester to turn the thing into a fully fledged musical worthy of staging on the West End. Antonino Tati
‘Nigella: Love Bites’ is on nightly from 6pm, Downstairs at the Maj, His Majesty’s Theatre, Perth until Saturday 18th February.
Tickets from $31 are available through www.fringeworld.com.au.