Tag: dark cabaret

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.


Take a turn on the dark side…

By Bradley Storer

Beginning the performance with a simple booming ‘Good evening ladies and gentlemen!’, the manically energetic Joe Black, making an immediate impression with his ghoulishly glittery face, barrelled onstage and launched into a song by fellow British cabaret artists Fascinating Aida, a spritely ditty about the pleasures of public fornication. This off-colour but hilarious opener set the tone for the rest of the evening, straddling the line between comedy and darkness expertly.

This is not an evening for the faint-hearted: subjects range from the joys of pyromania to the exploits of a heart-broken cannibal. Black covers many classics of the dark cabaret scene, including songs by the Tiger Lillies, Tom Waits and the Dresden Dolls, as well as original compositions discussing topics such as friends who ‘overshare’ on social networking sites. There are also more popular songs (Black’s Britney Spears cover is a particular delight), layered with a sinister twist – let’s just say I’ll never hear ‘You Are My Sunshine’ in quite the same way again.

Joe Black himself is charmingly demented. A musical and vocal chameleon, he swaps between piano and ukulele skilfully (which makes one regretful about his inability to smuggle his accordion past customs) and his voice switches at different times from a politely soft-spoken tenor, to a devilishly seductive Tom Waits-style croon, to a gospel-inflected roar reminiscent of Jason Webley.

The show itself still seems in development – segues between songs and the overall structure felt muddled, with connections in story not being as clearly developed as they could be. To be fair, this was probably not helped by Black’s admitted jet-lag or having to deal with an unusually talkative audience who interjected continually without warning – however this just goes to show, despite the darkness of his persona, how approachable Black made himself appear and how relaxed he had made his audience.

Despite some opening night glitches and some polishing still be done, Black is clearly a true cabaret performer, delivering a professional performance and forging such a strong connection with his audience that they spontaneously demanded a second encore – a rare sight! Such an enthusiastic response bodes well for the rest of Black’s first season in Australia, with the show undoubtedly growing even stronger with more performances.  

Until Nov 27th at The Butterfly Club


Review: BLOODLINES starring Bradley Storer

Halloween horrors worth feasting upon

By Emma Muiznieks

Walking slowly into the showroom at The Butterfly Club, Bradley Storer tells us his favourite fairy tale, one filled with murder, music and ghosts. This sets the scene perfectly for the following hour, as he takes us through the dark, sordid (and hopefully fictitious!) history of his family tree.

We are treated to a mix of personal anecdotes and theatrical readings from the family codex he compiled going back hundreds of years. These stories are interspersed with songs accompanied by Ben Kiley and ranging from Nick Cave and the Dresden Dolls to Kylie and Garfunkel & Oates, not to mention a very funny take on a classic Broadway hit by Rodgers and Hammerstein.

Storer has crafted a stage persona that is both endearing and sinister, a cheeky lad who goes through life with an invisible peanut gallery of voices in his head. This polarity of character allows him to move into darker areas that may not suit the seven o’clock timeslot without losing his audience.

 Indeed, Storer’s portrayal of a man’s decent into insanity, executed with such utter conviction, left the audience breathless and almost uncomfortable from the reality of the performance, and yet Storer was able to snap us back skilfully with just the right amount of levity.

As smooth and versatile as his vocals are (a haunting rendition of I Just Can’t Get You Out Of My Head in particular shows off his amazing range and easy tone), it is as a storyteller that Storer really shines. The creepy tales are evocatively written, with strong narratives and vivid imagery, and the sombre delivery draws you in so well that you can clearly see every tiny detail in your mind’s eye.

When he is not singing or reading stories, Storer’s interaction with the audience can feel a little wooden, and there is a tendency to perform to the back wall rather than the people in front of him, however these issues are bound to disappear with time and experience.

Bloodlines runs the gamut from hysterically funny to positively bone-chilling, and is an excellent example of a classic cabaret experience. Storer has immense potential as a performer and artist, and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

Venue: The Butterfly Club

Dates: Thur-Sun 27-30 Oct

Time: 7pm Thur-Sat, 6pm Sun

Bookings: http://www.thebutterflyclub.com/

Fringe Festival: Return of PRICE OF GENIUS & Other Gems

‘An absolute entrée into a very different world. Definitely worth seeing!’ – Julie Houghton 3MBS

In an era of Beethoven’s music and Shelley’s poetry, and a time of great upheaval and revolt, Mary Wollstonecraft changed the world forever when she wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Women.  

She married an anarchist, demanded sexual equality, and gave birth to both feminism and the famous Mary Shelley who wrote Frankenstein.

But …

Mary Wollstonecraft had another daughter.

This is her story.

In its repeat season, The Price of Genius is an emotionally charged and technically adept piece of theatre.  

Originally written and performed in 2009, it marked the 250th anniversary of Mary Wollstonecraft’s death and celebrated her colourful life and revolutionary work.  

The show’s initial reception confirmed a broad appeal for audiences – from Regency period and literary enthusiasts interested in the history of Wollstonecraft and the upheaval of the French Revolution, to feminists, educators, romantics, tragedians and, of course, musicians.  

There is an intensity in both dialogue and music, with the fascinating and unique story-telling experience of hearing new lyrics set to Beethoven’s lieder songs.

A two-hundred year old secret is finally revealed on stage…

Featuring Ilsa Cook
Accompanied by Katherine Gillon
Directed by Kim Edwards
Book and Lyrics by Sally Collyer
Music by Ludwig van Beethoven

Venue: The Butterfly Club
Dates: 23-26 September: Thur-Sat 7pm, Sun 6pm
Duration: 60 mins
Tickets: Conc $17.00, Full $22.00, Group $17.00
Bookings: 03 9660 9666, www.thebutterflyclub.com or www.melbournefringe.com.au


Some Other Fringe Favourites…

Cabaret Course graduate Tom Dickins presents his mesmerising new show THE SPACES BETWEEN as part of The Jane Austen Argument: an indie-noir cabaret experience… Book Now

Short+Sweet Festival Director Emma Clair Ford will be exploring the dark and comic side of the human psyche with LILA GREY: Book Now

THROUGH THE MAGNIFYING GLASS marks the return of our hilarious, bizarro favourite Kitty Bang as she romps through a new cabaret extravaganza of choreographed madness!   Book Now

Bring on the sadistic soap-opera: see cabaret course graduate Natalie Ristovska weave her magic at the Burlesque Bar with a return season of ATROCITY… Book Now