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There's nothing quite like the transition of a
literary character to stage or screen to get the
diehard fanatics talking -- does the lm/
play live up to the novel? Have they gotten the
characters right? Have they stayed true to the
Now imagine you're tasked with playing a
character in that adaptation -- and not only has it
been a successful novel, but also a stage play AND
an acclaimed feature lm...its latest incarnation --
a musical... e mind boggles...but that's exactly
the task Alexis Fishman faces this month when
she brings Manuel Puig's famous siren to life in
Kiss of the Spider Woman (the musical).
Fishman admits it was daunting "tackling
something with such a great pedigree" but says it's
"enjoyable and challenging at the same time." No
wonder she's so excited, Aurora from Kiss of the
Spider Woman is one of the great femme fatales.
For those unfamiliar with Puig's allegorical
tale, Fishman provides the crib notes, describing
Kiss of the Spider Woman as a story "about
two completely incompatible guys who are
forced together under the most traumatising
circumstances and how they manage to a ect
each other for the better".
e tale revolves around two central characters,
Molina a amboyant window dresser and
Valentine, a hard-line Marxist. " e pair share a
cell in a South American prison where the only
relief from the brutality of their incarceration
comes from Molina recounting the glamour and
the romance of his favourite movies," explains
Fishman. " ese movies all star Aurora, a Latin
American lm star of the forties. Her roles as a
femme fatale include a lm where she plays the
Spider Woman. e Spider Woman, in Molina's
imagination is a gure of death."
For Fishman, the challenge of playing the
Spider Woman/Aurora character lay in bringing
that element of vixen to her creation... "Aurora is
de nitely a challenging role for me. It's kind of
like someone saying to you 'be funny'. 'Be sexy' is
similarly daunting! But there is so much diversity
in the role which makes it so great to play, and
also gives it a lot of scope."
Never mind the fact she also has to
spontaneously burst into song! I don't envy her
"I try to not think about them as songs
necessarily" admits Alexis, "but just continuations
of the scene and the moment. I think when you
are singing on stage it is de nitely all about the
Certainly having the music and lyrics penned
by two of the greatest musical theatre teams in the
world, Kander and Ebb (Chicago) doesn't hurt...
Alexis agrees: " e music is catchy without
being obvious or clichéd and the lyrics are
intelligent. I think they have enough respect
for theatre-goers to present intelligent material,
whilst entertaining at the same time."
So what does she hope the audience takes away
with them from seeing the production?
"I always hope that audiences have a good
time. And perhaps learn something new about
a di erent time or place, or maybe something new
Kiss of the Spider Woman plays at the Darlinghurst
Theatre from July 8 - August 8. Tix $32/37.
Alexis Fishman tackles the role of a literary femme fatale in Kiss of the Spiderwoman. By Cec Busby
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