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Terror Australis

Leah Shelton was performing in a glitzy variety show in Las Vegas when she had the idea for Terror Australis, an anti-burlesque cabaret show exploring Australian culture’s dark undercurrent. Off The Leash had a chat with Shelton ahead of her Darwin show.

What is Terror Australis? 

It’s like a psychedelic mash-up exploring the dark underbelly of Australian culture. There’s a lot of pop culture references and I put those in counterpoint to some true stories about the dark terror of the Australian outback. I play a number of characters, such as a trashy outback backpacker and a goon-swilling girl that pole dances on a Hills Hoist – that kind of vibe.

Could this ring a bit too true for your Territory audience? 

I’ve had a few people say this to me. I re-enact a scene out of Crocodile Dundee, which is a bit ridiculous. Then I tell a story about a friend of mine who attempted to put a road kill kangaroo out of its misery. I play the kangaroo and it’s very, very funny. 

Why do you think these themes should be interrogated?

I was interested in whether there’s an underlying paranoia in Australian culture – why we are afraid of change, of outsiders? We have a bloody history connected to the landscape and then there’s all these narratives of hitchhikers and of people getting lost in the bush. There’s something interesting connecting that to the Australian psyche.

Will people be shocked? 

I think it’s a real rollercoaster. People have said they laugh a lot and then have moments of chills-down-the-spine terror. I think it has the potential to shock, but I use comedy and ridiculousness to draw people in.

Wed 12 – Sat 15 Jul | 7pm | ACCOMPLICE Arts Space

See the event listing. 

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