Dark, daring and divine
By Bradley Storer
Entering the Loft at Chapel off Chapel with his back to the audience, staring longingly into the spotlight overhead, Kim Smith instantly created a striking image of loneliness which befits a show with the title Misfit. From this apt starting point, the audience is taken on a dark journey through lost innocence, heart break and death.
Smith travelled through a wide range of material in English, German and French, with a focus on the works of Kurt Weill – the classic Weill numbers ‘Surabaya Johnny’, ‘My Ship’ and ‘Pirate Jenny’ all make an appearance, each word delivered with crisp delectation.
This dark sensibility is brought even to the lightest of moments - after riffing on his experiences in his adopted home, America, and his own bloody history, an hilariously un-PC Peter Allen number about moving to Dixie is chained onto the signature Billie Holliday song ‘Strange Fruit’, culminating in a powerfully chilling rendition of Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’ which stunned the audience with its devastating subversion of the song’s hopeful sentiments.
Smith is a creature born from the Weimar cabaret tradition, with even contemporary songs delivered with a Germanic twist, laced with vulgarity and cynicism.
Smith himself is a sinister mix of Joel Grey circa Cabaret and the Cheshire Cat, a charmingly frightening figure with his own brand of subtle sexual charisma: truly the ‘misfit’ of the title. His voice is tightly controlled and wielded to maximum effect in every song he sings, and his banter with the audience left us all laughing hysterically.
My only criticism would be in the show’s penultimate song, The Supremes’ ‘You Keep Me Hanging On’ – while using contemporary songs in other contexts with hilarious results, this song is so far removed in both style and sentiment from the rest of Smith’s repertoire that it jars.
Other than this, Misfit is classic cabaret with an intense and charismatic star at its centre – don’t miss out!
Dates: 22 -24 June 7pm
Venue: Chapel off Chapel
Tickets: $40 Full, $35 Concession
Phone: 03 8290 7000