Tag: Mark Jones

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… 

suburban-gothic

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: Mark Jones and Geraldine Quinn sing SONGS FROM UNDER THE BED

Rediscovering great Australian music, cabaret-style

By Bradley Storer

At the beginning of the evening the two performers, Mark Jones and Geraldine Quinn, were casual as they walked onstage through the audience. They chatted excitedly to one another, briefly pausing to tease three eager audience members sitting in the front row. This atmosphere continued throughout the performance, Mark and Geraldine bantering playfully with one another (and a particularly talkative group near the front) between songs.

Their highly polished performances stood in stark contrast to their informal stage manner. The concept behind this show was to uncover and explore the treasures of Australian song-writing which have been hidden or lost, figuratively, ‘under the bed’. There were a broad range of songs chosen, from Paul Kelly, John Williamson to Claire Bowditch as well as a few originals thrown in.

Geraldine Quinn is a highly charismatic performer, with a large range and a powerful voice. Mark Jones was the perfect foil to her flamboyant stage presence, responding to Geraldine’s continual attempts to make good-hearted jibes at him with a cheekily deadpan expression. With their natural chemistry onstage, the two were a joy to watch.

There were many highpoints during the evening. The first was an exquisite duet of Paul Kelly’s ‘Deeper Water’ which actually brought tears to the eyes of this reviewer. Later there was a suite of Australian murder ballads (not Nick Cave, surprisingly) which related to specific geographical locations in Australia.

Beginning with a hilarious duet about the Snowtown murders, the two took turns with individual songs –  Mark sinisterly half-speaking, half-singing his section before seamlessly passing onto Geraldine who finished with an acoustic rendering of ‘Everything’s Turning to White’ which stunned with its simplicity and underplayed intensity. A surprising inclusion was a sprightly ode by Mick Thomas to the Australian sub-culture of the ‘Cave Clan’ – the concept of a real-life group of ‘subterranean Freemasons’ was unknown to me, and had apparently only been introduced to the performers when they discovered the song. Under the bed indeed!

While a fantastic night overall, a tighter focus needed to be present – sometimes the evening meandered as the performers took too long between songs to banter between themselves and the audience, and the show ended up going overtime and they were disappointingly forced to skip several songs to finish up. Other than this, it was an evening of amazing Australian music sung by two excellent performers which would be a great night for anyone (even those unfamiliar with a lot of Australian music).

Performances on  Saturday 23rd, Sunday 24th July at 6:30pm

The Lamond Room, South Melbourne Town Hall

Tickets:  Full $35/ Concession $32 @ www.melbournecabaret.com