Directed by: Ralph McAllister
Fringe Bar, 11th Jun 2023
Reviewed by: Tanya Piejus
Veteran entertainer Margaret Austin has had a more colourful life than most and Please Adjust Your G-string is a glimpse into the most luminous parts. Resplendent in gold high heels, a red jacket, and matching feather boa, she regales us with her adventures in travel and love. These are interspersed with snatches of era or location-appropriate music to which she employs her dance training and sashays along.
Born just after World War II in Palmerston North, she grew up in an environment “marked with a lack of excitement”, handing round her mother’s famous cucumber sandwiches to guests and musing on her mysterious journalist father’s emotional detachment. After a conventional school-university-teacher training-marriage path, it’s not surprising that this born adventurer decided to up sticks and head to Italy with two friends.
This was the beginning of numerous daring adventures, starting with a stint as an orange-skinned dancer at the Folies Bergère in Paris, then onto Cannes interviewing Anthony Hopkins for Playgirl magazine, and meeting a man from Cameroon in a nightclub with a briefcase full of gold bars, probably from Omar Sharif.
Austin is a charming and engaging performer who doesn’t shy away from the hard parts. A near and an actual sexual assault are also part of her European journey, which Ralph McAllister’s direction powerfully shows us as Austin steps down from her centre-stage podium and cowers against a pillar.
Her poetic nature burst out on a paper tablecloth in Greece where the attitude of Greek men towards women was the subject of her first scathing scribble, which we hear. She recites another of her lovely poems later in the performance to honour her lover and best friend Anthony, who some might remember as the Duke of Wellington. Running into both of her ex-husbands in the same supermarket inspired my favourite line of the night: “Romance may come and go, but groceries go on forever”.
What a privilege it is to share in such a well-lived life.