Upon entering the dimly lit Ellington Jazz Club, I was met by cool air and an even cooler vibe. The six-piece band were playing a sultry jazz instrumental that set the mood for the performance to come. The Ruby Red Fatales is a wholesome mix of comedy, murder and sex, and a must-see for musical lovers and fans of all things ludicrous. Set in WW2 Paris, it follows the story of a guileless British girl who wants to join the Ruby Red Fatales, a trio of scantily-clad, gun-wielding show-girls who seduce and then murder Nazi operatives.
The titular Ruby Red Fatales are garishly beautiful; they slink onstage in a blur of diamonds, lingerie and feather boas. But don’t let their impractical attire fool you: these ladies are literally dressed to kill. The opening number, though flirty and upbeat, doesn’t skirt around the fact these women wouldn’t hesitate to “shoot you dead”. The leader of the trio, Miss Ruby, is the most striking. Despite standing at barely five feet, her icy stare and thunderous voice could leave a man twice her size quaking in fear. By contrast, the latest recruit into the fierce fold is a doe-eyed, polka-dot-dress-wearing British girl with big dreams and even bigger pipes. Over the course of the performance she undergoes a Princess Diaries-esque transformation, and the next time we see her, she is the bustier-sporting Miss Titties. Her hot new look doesn’t detract from her hilarious naivety; Miss Titties’ first lap dance looks more like someone in the middle seat on a commercial flight trying to climb over the other passengers to go to the toilet.
You wouldn’t guess it from the title, but The Ruby Red Fatales is actually a love story of sorts. The most important rule in the Fatales’ blood-red rulebook is “never fall in love”, but simple Miss Titties could not resist kind-hearted Jurgen, the more amiable of the three Nazis. In true Romeo and Juliet fashion, the show-girl/trained assassin falls in love with the Nazi soldier she’s been ordered to kill. How romantic. Their love is ignited by a brief hand-holding session, after which the pair burst into a cheerful ditty which features lines such as “If we explode into smithereens, please keep a smithereen of my heart”, which, I suppose, illustrates that true love is strong enough to withstand the horrors of a World War.
The Ruby Red Fatales had me on the edge of my seat the whole time (and not just because I was straining to see around the tall gentleman standing in front of me); the play is packed with unexpected turns and a captivating cast. The highlight of the evening was definitely when the Fatales came into the audience, and gave a poor woman an unsolicited lap dance. Miss Ruby was even so bold as to take a sip of my friend’s wine, leaving her trademark crimson lipstick on the rim of the glass. A ridiculous display, but ultimately enjoyable.
Words by Melissa Gitari