Tag: black comedy


Daring diva with a killer voice

By Christine Moffat

Isabel Hertaeg has a dream to be an operatic soprano, but she’s noticed that they don’t always have the best of luck.  Her theory is, if she can work out what keeps killing them off, she has some hope of surviving a role!

Death By Soprano

Hertaeg has serious soprano-envy, and this is a very good thing.  As a result, we were treated to a fabulous array of soprano deaths, without all those annoying tenors getting in the way to spoil it.

The show began with Hertaeg coming onstage as the tragic Ophelia, whose gory death details I won’t spoil.  Suffice to say, this reviewer’s sick sense of humour was switched on in the first three minutes of this show.  Once poor Ophelia is no more, Hertaeg outlines her approach: she will explain the A-Z of soprano deaths.  Accompanied wonderfully by Amy Abler, Hertaeg then starts her alphabetical annihilation with ‘A is for Avalanche’.

If it had gone wrong, this show could have turned into one big highbrow in-joke, with opera aficionados tittering away whilst the common folk looked on confused.  Instead, it turned out to be an intelligent concept, wrapped in a delightfully dark show, and decorated with Hertaeg’s wonderful voice.

The cute little prop jokes kept the comedy bubbling along, and the many, many deaths took care of the pathos.  Watch out for Brunhilde (a highlight), who ticks both the prop comedy and pathos boxes at once!

Although the show is a tragic comedy, with little quips sprinkled throughout, Hertaeg did not skimp on the opera.  Her performance of Butterfly’s aria in particular was intensely moving.  On top of being funny and having an amazing voice, Hertaeg also managed to sing in Italian, French, Russian, English and German.  I’m beginning to feel a little soprano-envy myself…

Show information:

Death by Soprano

Wednesday 20th March 2013

The Butterfly Club

Carson Place (just off Little Collins Street in the Melbourne CBD)


REVIEW: EastEnd Cabaret

“Discovered in a bedsit over a gin-joint in London…”

While Victor Victoria hugs his/her piano accordian lovingly and begins to play another darkly funny pop song-cum-polka, the luscious Bernadette Byrne flutters her outrageous eyelashes at us, concedes to put down the gin, and unleashes her wonderful voice in chanteuse parody.  

EastEnd Cabaret is what two Aussie artists have brought back from a performing sejourn in London, and while the opening night show was a little haphazard and uneven in places, the two characters demonstrated impressive musicanship and delicious comic potential.

Photo courtesy of Laura Oliver

Jennifer Bryne‘s immersion into her alter-ego as bawdy Russian femme fatale is beguiling: her repartee with the audience and improvised witticisms are excellent, and her voice has a lovely mix of rich warmth and brash character sound to keep her blackly comedic songs in real cabaret style.   As her androgenous multi-intrumentalist, Vicky Falconer-Prichard‘s Victor Victoria is a talented musician and a funny man-lady in her own right, though her delivery is often too low and apologetic for all the audience to appreciate the cutsy comic one-liners.

While there is some taut, clever writing in places, the real strength of the show lies in the reworked songs: Madonna, Right Said Fred and Devo make for sensational neo-cabaret fodder, and the satirical rewrites and arrangements were hilarious.   The opening night audience adored recognising the introductory riffs, but the suggestive proved more popular than the blatant when they were more reserved about the original songs where the broad ribald humour tended to only get nervous laughs.

A few elements were not entirely successful: the ‘divide and conquer’ approach to audience interaction where the characters regularly began separate conversations or spoke over each other’s songs served to distract and pull focus rather than complement the other’s comedy and performance, while a more deadpan style of humour from Victor would perhaps be a better foil to Bernie’s energy and animation.   The pseudo-communist interludes felt clumsy: some context or preamble in introducing them and flagging their connection to the characters and relevance to the show would also have been worthwhile.

Photo courtesy of Laura Oliver

Nonetheless, EastEnd Cabaret will clearly continue to flourish and evolve,  the mis-matched characters are adapt at exploring the shadowy regions of creepy, comic and cute, and hopefully these two very talented artists will become regulars in the Melbourne cabaret scene where their edgy eccentric style is in the process of becoming just what our audiences love.

Venue: The Butterfly Club
Dates: 10th – 13th February, 2011
Tickets: $27/ $24 (con)
Times: Thurs – Sat: 9pm, Sun: 8pm
Bookings: www.thebutterflyclub.com

IN THE DEAD OF NIGHT: The Hit Cult Show Returns

In The Dead Of Night
In The Dead Of Night


Australia’s first ‘choose your own adventure’ cabaret debuts in Melbourne… and it’s not for the faint of heart.

After directing professional cabaret and theatre for nearly a decade, Play Right Theatre founder Kim Edwards has channelled her dark side and finally released a long-time pet project of her own on the stage.

Edwards’ previous credits include children’s drama classes and Theatre In Education work, but it will be adults only when In The Dead Of Night: A Cult Show is let loose at The Butterfly Club in all its gothic, grotesque, and darkly funny glory.

“This is the product of my perverse pen and the dark recesses of my twisted mind” explained the lady herself, whose witty new work explores three lives at stake in a dangerous murder mystery, rife with black humour and suspense.

A major twist to this late night cult show is the uncertainty of its own cast members as to each story climax. Every evening, the audience are given control over the fate of the characters in ‘choose your own adventure’ style, meaning every performance is completely unique, and the possibilities are endless.

Three will finally meet,
Two will finally know.

One will certainly die…

Let the fun begin!

10.30pm every Fri/Sat July 31- Aug 15
The Butterfly Club
204 Bank St, South Melbourne
Tickets $22/17
Bookings: www.thebutterflyclub.com
Enquiries: 03 9690 2000

Gothic, grotesque and darkly funny – not for the faint-hearted… 

Cult Show Cast

THE MAIDEN: Lizzie Matjacic