This kamikaze cabaret is ambiguous, off-beat and excessively endearing
By Bradley Storer
Emily Taylor made her entrance wearing only high heels, a long coat and a confident smile. She wordlessly appraised each individual in the front row before presenting one particular lady with a bouquet of flowers. This opening managed to encapsulate the spirit of the entire show: intimate and mysterious as well as friendly and touching.
This ‘kamikaze cabaret’ mixes stories of childhood, family and heartbreak with dreamscapes, songs and improvised interactions with audience members to create a piece that bounces from topic to topic with child-like energy and enthusiasm.
The audience are treated like the inhabitants of Emily’s constantly shifting dream-world, changing from strangers to childhood friends without warning. They are kept constantly engaged through quirky games or the sentimental mementos Emily occasionally passes around for show-and-tell.
The rapid shifts in time and place can be disorienting, making it difficult at times to keep up with the flow of the story. However since the aim of the show appears to be to depict the fluctuating terrains of memory and dream, this ambiguity actually makes sense in context. The effective lighting design helps to minimize the confusion and creates a unique space for each territory encountered.
Emily Taylor is utterly charming, her bright open face instantly endearing her to the audience. Her enormous energy and commitment, combined with some ingenious and creative staging, turn what could have been clichéd material into something unique and hilarious (my particular favourite was the subtly filthy trampoline gag). Emily skilfully handles improvisation with the audience, constructing stories about the lives of the audience members which she then blends seamlessly into her final monologue. Her accompanist Quinn Stacpoole provides responsive and illustrative backdrops against which Emily’s tales and dreams play out.
The sombre finale of the show gathers up the fragments of all that has come before into a series of interconnecting monologues, weaving together haunting images of death, aging and loneliness. All these subjects appear, albeit hidden, in the stories throughout the show and provide a surprisingly appropriate conclusion to this seemingly light-hearted piece.
The final performance of Hello You is at 6:45 on Thursday 21st July, at the Auspicious Arts Incubator, 228 Bank St, South Melbourne as part of the Melbourne Cabaret Festival.
Ticket prices: $33 Full/ $30 Concession
Tickets can be booked online at MelbourneCabaret.com