Though it was not until the twentieth century that the "femme fatale" archetype received that appellation, women's dark power of seduction has been a storytelling theme since before Calypso and Circe bewitched Odysseus in Homer's The Odyssey.

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CABARET
Femme Fatales – A History
The Moon House Tent, Perth Cultural Centre
Review: Graham Hansen

Though it was not until the 20th century that the "femme fatale" archetype received that appellation, women's dark power of seduction has been a storytelling theme since before Calypso and Circe bewitched Odysseus in Homer's The Odyssey.

The debate as to whether such characters play into a misogynistic fantasy or are a symbol of female empowerment may be far from settled, but their endurance in popular consciousness cannot be denied.

Embracing the archetype, WA Opera mezzo-sopranos Anne Millar and Sonni Byrne appear under Fringe World's Moon House Tent as innuendo spouting, slinky gown clad temptresses, ready to introduce their audience to the long line of dangerous women.

Accompanied by the accomplished David Wickham on piano, Millar and Byrne expose various female characters from myth, fiction and history as befitting the label, beginning with the biblical Eve herself.

Millar and Byrne's portrayals of such figures are cleverly and amusingly combined with a range of songs, samplings and compositions that themselves demonstrate the femme fatale's history and the performers' extraordinary vocal abilities. Though an appropriate jazz bar aesthetic infuses the entire repertoire, it runs alongside tunes from the music hall, The Velvet Underground and Habanera from Bizet's Carmen, among others.

While much of the audience may have spent the show cooling themselves with the complimentary Fringe World hand-held fans - either because of the sweltering night air or the content of the show - all eyes appeared to be locked on the antics of the performers up front.

According to Millar and Byrne, there is a bit of femme fatale in every mother, daughter, sister, wife and lover. In fact, they exclaim, there is a bit of femme fatale in us all.

Femme Fatales – A History runs until February 5 at The Moon House Tent and is part of Fringe World 2013. Tickets are available from fringeworld.com.au.