Tag: Dresden Dolls

REVIEW: Jacqui Dark and Kanen Breen are STRANGE BEDFELLOWS

Deliciously dirty cabaret

By Bradley Storer

Australian opera stars Jacqui Dark and Kanen Breen bring their delightfully perverted brand of dark cabaret to the Melbourne stage.  The diabolical duo, clothed in corsets and border-line S&M finery, storm the stage of The Butterfly Club and make clear from the outset their aim to both offend our sensibilities and entertain us at the same time. In their opening number Dark and Breen harness the operatic power of their voices in thrilling ways to deliver a roof-rattling Robbie Williams number, never apologising for their classical roots but finding a surprisingly comfortable middle ground between modern rock and opera.

Strange Bedfellows

The evening was an onslaught of confrontational sexuality, moral degradation and gasp-inducing humour that harkened back to the highly political and satirical origins of classic German cabaret, but always performed with a cheeky smile and a refusal to be serious. Topics ranged from the masculine/feminine dichotomy found in both men and women alike, a Germanic rendition of ‘Tainted Love’, an extended and uproarious rock opera/morality play about sexual fetishes too heinous to be mentioned here, all the way to a medley of the pair’s childhood songs which culminated in a simultaneously heart-rending and bone-chilling performance of the Dresden Dolls’ ‘Slide’.

Dark is an earthy, sensual presence onstage, using her commanding mezzo-soprano in a wide variety of styles and wielding her forthright and ribald sense of humour to maximum effect. Her tale of being classified as a ‘geriatric’ mother and the trials of IVF was a refreshingly sincere change of pace in the show that still managed to draw laughs even as it touched the hearts of the audience. Breen’s devilish grin and sinuous stage manner, along with a powerful and penetrating tenor, make him and Dark an ideal and complementary duo onstage. Together they drew the audience into depths of filth, lust and sin that terrified and titillated in equal measure. My only critique would be a slight loss of pace towards the end of the evening as more sincere material took over, losing some of the crackling and dynamic energy of the darkness which preceded it.

A terrific evening of classic Weimar-style cabaret from two accomplished local artists, Strange Bedfellows: Under the Covers sure to be savoured by those enjoy the darker and dangerous pleasures of life.

Venue: The Butterfly Club, Carson Place, Melbourne

Date: 18 – 22nd February
Time: 6pm Wednesday and Sunday, 7pm Thursday – Saturday
Tickets: At the door, www.thebutterflyclub.com
Price: Full $32, Concession $28, Members $26, Groups 8+ $25


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/

Halloween Horror Unleashed: BLOODLINES – A Gothic Cabaret

It’s only a story…

Imagine, if you will, a cabaret composed of one part the cosmic horror of H.P. Lovecraft. The delectably black ironies of The Twilight Zone. The operatic madness of Lucia di Lammermoor. And the haircut of Justin Bieber. If your mind can conceive of such a nightmarish creation, it might yield something similar to: BLOODLINES – A GOTHIC CABARET.

After emerging from treatment for cupcake-related trauma, horror-enthusiast/formerly-disturbed child Bradley Storer brings with him a collection of delightfully demented tales rightfully destined for consumption on the eve of Halloween.

Unearthing the hidden gems from the crypts of his family history, the serenely sinister Bradley intertwines them with music from dark artists like Nick Cave, Tom Waits, the Dresden Dolls and the Decemberists.

Haunting The Butterfly Club for four performances, this gothic-indie cabaret playfully blends the boundaries between good and evil, past and present, imagination and reality into a sweetly poisonous concoction fit only for an after-dark feast at the dead of the night’s high noon.

Prepared to be amused, enthralled and terrified (often all three at the same time!)


Remember: Don’t be afraid.

It’s only a story…   



Bloodlines: A Gothic Cabaret

Directed by Kim Edwards

Accompanied by Ben Kiley

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 204 Bank St, South Melbourne VIC

Dates: Thursday 27th October – Sunday 30th October

Time: 7pm Thursday – Saturday, 6pm Sunday

Price: Full $22 / Conc $19 / Group (8 +) $18

Booking/ Info: www.thebutterflyclub.com