Tag: Karlis Zaid

The Butterfly Club Presents SUBURBAN GOTHIC

Fearsomely funny and frighteningly familiar…

By Myron My

Cabaret doesn’t get more macabre and twisted than in Suburban Gothic. There is definitely “some spooky shit going down” in the show, but what makes it even more unnerving is that it is all apparently taking place just down the road from where you live – or even closer to home… 


What initially seem like charming and innocuous cabaret songs soon turn grim and morbid at the masterful musical hands of writers Karlis Zaid, Mark Jones and Karin Muiznieks. The songs and a torrid trio of stories cleverly expose the dark underbelly of the suburbs in wry and witty ways, with no topic taboo. 

Thus, a happy inner-city-dwelling couple head off to a friend’s house in Caroline Springs only to become frustrated and panicked upon getting lost in the ‘burbs, a “proud” father-of-the-bride gives a heartfelt wedding speech to his daughter and her “terrorist” husband Miguel, and two strangers at a park battle it out as to who is the prouder parent. 

Performers Aurora Kurth, Zaid, and Jones all have strong commanding voices on stage, well-crafted characterisation, and Kurth and Zaid’s duets are especially impressive. Jones accompanies these original songs on piano with his usual aplomb, and the numbers create an intended atmosphere of apprehension and uncertainty when arrangements of mostly upbeat “happy” music contrast unsettlingly with the grim and satisfyingly satirical tone of the lyrics.

Meanwhile, the settings of each song and scene are successfully constructed with minimal set pieces and a few quick wardrobe changes, allowing the audience to fully immerse themselves in the performance. This is all supported by Steven Gates’ simple but meaningful direction of the cast, and the neat and discrete lighting effects. 

It’s a complex mixture of feelings when Suburban Gothic ends. It’s a highly entertaining and ruthlessly funny and clever show, it’s also quite relentless in digging deeper and deeper into the things we usually would rather not think about or want to be confronted with. When the nervous laughter has subsided, we can of course take comfort, however, in knowing that it was just a show and these sorts of things don’t happen here. After all, as the trio say on stage, it’s all mostly satire. Mostly. 

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne
Season: Until 29 January | Fri – Sun 8:30pm
Tickets: $32 Full | $28 Conc
Bookings: The Butterfly Club

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.

Review: KARIN MUIZNIEKS’ Filthy Secrets

Risque, risky music theatre that’s both fresh and funny

By Kate Boston Smith

The rumors are true, Karin Muiznieks is one of Melbourne’s best musical theatre writer / composers, and Filthy Secrets is the perfect hot-breathed whisper to convey this exceptional talent. 

Unsure of what to expect when I took my seat, as the first song started my mouth curled into a half-moon and maintain that position for nigh on the next 55 minutes. Muiznieks and her team of talent have pieced together a jet stream of sketches that move from light-hearted over-bearing stage parents to more darker elements of sexual perversions in the society in which we all live. 

On stage with her are the flawless musical performers Cameron Thomas, Karlis Zaid, the ever-gorgeous Louise Joy McCrae and sibling/ fellow musician extraordinaire Emma Muiznieks. Together this ensemble produces choral completeness, jazzed-up jives and crooning tales of misunderstood woes

Interwoven into these delightful sounds are stories, tales and conversations which we all can relate to or comment on.  From sexually confused footballers and snooty Toorak housewives, to modern-day women with casual sex on the brain, no one is safe and nor should they be.  This is a show that explores and pokes fun at multiple facets of society with no-holds barred.

There was one sketch that was particularly risqué.  As my body squirmed in the “oh no” awkwardness of the sketches content, my head processed the intention behind this particular piece, a commentary on media outlets and the public’s obsession with celebrities.  This is a topic very fitting in today’s media climate in light of the controversy around the News of World phone-tapping scandal. 

Controversy aside, this is a show that is sleek, funny and setting the tone for modern musical theatre.  It is fast-moving to the point where you don’t notice time slipping beneath you, with performances that are strong and worthy of praise and applause they evoke. 

This is an ideal show both for those wanting to dabble in cabaret for the first time and for the more seasoned audience member: a perfect representation of fresh musical theatre with a dark, comedy bent.

Tonight Thurs 21 July at 7.15pm

$35 / $32, The Ballantyne Room, South Melbourne Town Hall