Into the dark…
By Jessica Cornish
In the appropriately atmospheric Butterfly Club, twenty-something-year-old songstress Hannah Day is currently staring in the one-woman cabaret Weill Creatures, composed from a tapestry of Weill’s musical creations.
The hour-long performance features the music of Kurt Weill, and dramatist Bertolt Brecht, and if you’re not familiar, the pair were notoriously known as the founding fathers of Episches Theater (the epic theatre movement) established in twentieth-century Germany. The majority of the numbers Day utilises are from well-known musicals such as The Threepenny Opera and Happy End, which were popular musicals of their day that appealed to the masses whilst retaining their literary and musical integrity.
Weill Creatures is sung in a mixture of French and English, which was an interesting decision as the original pieces were actually composed in German. Due to the Franglish, it was sometimes slightly difficult to grasp the story line, especially for those less familiar with the works of Weill and Brecht. This confusion was further deepened due to the various segueing monologues introducing and entering different characters’ lives.
Many of the characters portrayed are heartbroken women tormented by unrequited love, women who are suffering in the knowledge that their husbands have returned to a life of crime, women who are themselves swindlers and women forced to live a life of prostitution. It is quite an intense and serious hour of cabaret, which draws its audience dramatically and musically into the bleak reality of these women.
Similar to the plot, the lighting was ultimately a tad too dark for my liking: the performance could have benefited from a little more light and shade, rather than just the enduring darkness. Indeed, the big mystery of the evening, as articulated by my Weill enthusiast companion, was where was the “Mack the Knife” rendition went? With its blackly humorous lyrics and jazz-standard fame, this Threepenny Opera delight could have added some needed upbeat relief and engaging familiarity in an otherwise grim and sombre performance.
Vocally, Day is impressive. Her words were well-articulated and notes, particularly in the higher register, were all well-executed. She had great projection and vibrato was added appropriately to colour the songs, nicely emulating the singing style of the 1930’s. She is clearly a confident young performer, with a strong support network and a definite future in the Australian musical theatre scene. Weill Creatures is definitely not for the faint-hearted, and I warmly applaud Hannah for exposing the daring and dramatic works of Weill to a new generation.
The Butterfly Club: Carson Place, off Little Collins St (between Swanston & Elizabeth) in the Melbourne CBD.
Tuesday 20 May 2014 8:00pm
Wednesday 21 May 2014 8:00pm
Thursday 22 May 2014 9:00pm
Friday 23 May 2014 9:00pm
Saturday 24 May 2014 9:00pm
Sunday 25 May 2014 8:00pm
Groups (8+) $18