Review: AUSTRALIAN HORROR STORY by Dirty Thieving Gypsies

Murder, music, mayhem and the macabre…

By Myron My

My initiation into the Melbourne Cabaret Festival began with Australian Horror Story: a dark musical journey starring Karin Muiznieks and Karlis Zaid as they trawl the backwaters of suburbia and equally horrify and amuse us through song and characterisation.

From the opening scene as three hooded and candlelit figures enter the stage, there is a dark and eerie ambiance in the room. The idea of blood and hell will invariably enter your mind with the minimal props being used being black or red.

This performance takes the banalities of sub-urbanity and turns it into something sinister – “Why do people with similar lives to us commit terrible crimes and acts of transgression?” Zaid asks.

From Jihads in Melton, parents competing to have the “better” child and a “relaxing” drive to Caroline Springs, we are introduced to strongly-defined characters created by Muiznieks and Zaid. There is great camaraderie between the two of them and the play off and against each other is a joy to watch.

Being a cabaret show, the music is an integral part of the production and it did not disappoint, with soft and happy tunes swiftly changing to dark and somber ones. The lighting was synced with the music for the most part, however there were times that the lighting prevented me from seeing the performers and while I understand it was to set the mood I found it more of an annoyance than anything else.

Hipster Killer ran the risk of stopping the melodic flow of the show as it was more of a poetry reading than song but judging from the applause, this was a crowd-favourite – including mine. And as soon as it was over, we returned to a song to bring us back to the macabre.

The real chilling horror of the show is the impression that this is all happening right now. Australian Horror Story speculates there is a man in a suburb somewhere putting on gloves and getting ready to murder someone, and it is this enduring thought that left me questioning how much I should be laughing. There definitely is some spooky shit going down in our home towns but thanks to this show, we can laugh about it a lot… nervously.

Australian Horror Story was performed on the 17th – 18th July, 8:30pm at Chapel Off Chapel as part of the Melbourne Cabaret Festival 2012.