Winningly witty and deliciously dark
By Bradley Storer
Award-winning cabaret performer Melissa Langton arrives at Chapel off Chapel with her latest offering, A Singer Must Die… And Other Bedtime Stories for Melbourne Fringe Festival. The subject of the evening is the idea of the ‘apocalypse’, both on the global and personal scale. Langton opens the show with the title song, a grim reflection on the artistic process and creative crisis, following with a rip-roaring gospel-inflected tune anticipating the destructive ecstasy of the coming cataclysm, setting up many of the ideas explored throughout the piece.
Langton cleverly weaves tales of personal calamity and turmoil in a wide-ranging series of scenarios, the only set being three platforms which she cleverly moves between to punctuate her narratives. Topics reach from the forgotten little sister of Jesus forever living in her brother’s shadow, deception in online dating, a short-lived romance between carnival freaks to the return of the Devil to Earth. Some of the brighter numbers seem a little simplistic and underwritten in comparison to the darker songs, and at the beginning of the evening there seems to be an overload of more melancholy material which threatens to make it a little repetitive, but by the halfway mark Langton manages to find a balance between the light and shade which works wonderfully.
Langton herself is a charming performer, her wide-ranging vocals wielded to maximum effect and her belt physically shaking the room with its enormous strength! At times Langton seemed a little reserved and tentative, but this can surely be chalked up to opening night jitters – by the end of the evening she had blossomed with hilarious comedic energy in her more upbeat numbers and a simple but touching gravitas in more serious moments.
There are some utter gems amongst these partially spoken, partially sung tales. A hilarious saga of heartbreak and automotive spree-killing, a gently heart-breaking look into the life of a recently widowed woman. The story of a woman breaking into the home of her ex-lover hums with the simultaneous agony and joy of being hopelessly in love, an extraordinary act of empathy which touched the audience in the deepest recesses of our hearts. The penultimate song, which explores the continuous unity of the human spirit and the possibilities of reincarnation, brilliantly ties together all the threads seen in the show into a multi-faceted reflection of the divide fundamental to the human condition. An evening of both entertainment and enlightenment!
VENUE: Chapel off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran.
DATE: 24 – 29th September
TIME: 7:30 (6:30 Sunday)
PRICES: Full $28, Concession $25, Group 10+ $20
TICKETS: www.chapeloffchapel.com.au, Ph: (03) 8290 7000, at the door.