Classic comedy that delivers
By Christine Moffat
Izaak Lim explores the songs, and more importantly, the bent of Tom Lehrer in this one-hour cabaret at the iconic Melbourne venue The Butterfly Club.
Many lovers of darkly comic cabaret will be familiar with one or two songs from Lehrer’s catalogue such as The Masochism Tango or Poisoning Pigeons in the Park, but in this show Lim also dusts off some under-loved gems and makes them sparkle again.
For those who don’t know Lehrer’s work, this show would be an excellent introduction to the skewed worldview of the comical, musical, mathematical genius who was a highly respected professor as well as a fabulously disrespectful human being.
Lim captures this second element especially well in his own performance, which is very faithful to Lehrer without going anywhere near an impersonation. Lim is himself, and that self seems to be almost as dark, strange and hilarious as his ‘mentor’.
On opening night the room was small, intimate and warm, as was the mood created by Lim and his oh-so-accomplished accompanist Trevor Jones. Lim’s performance was superb: his voice has a beautiful tone that echoes Lehrer’s own deceptively sweet-noted delivery of deliciously sour concepts.
It is a humorous format that is milked for all it’s worth by Lim and Jones. They are in synch musically and their tetchy banter really keeps the ball rolling. As a result, the show seemed much shorter than it was, even including our predestined ‘encore’.
When he performed, Lehrer was most often trapped behind a piano, relying only on facial expression and nuance to reach his audience. By utilising Jones for the majority of the music (watch out for some sneaky accordion action) Lim has the benefit of embodying the songs with high-energy physical humour, an hilarious addition to the already funny songs. More than once I found myself laughing a bit too loud, and I wasn’t alone.
In closing, I will simply say this about Too Many Songs: if you don’t like laughing, don’t go.
Dates: Saturday 25th July 7pm/ Sunday 26th July 6pm
Tickets: $23 Full, $20 Conc, $18 Group 8+
Venue: The Butterfly Club, 204 Bank St, South Melbourne