Tag: Melbourne Cabaret Festival 2012

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.


Fairytale flights of fancy and musical dexterity

By Dean Arcuri

My Melbourne Cabaret Festival experience began with decadent delight thanks to the musical stylings of  Emma Dean and Jake Diefenbach: two dynamic and talented performers who, when combined, become Geppetto – a fantastical pop fairytale duo that took me on an exotic vocal journey which enveloped and swallowed me whole.

Ten musical stories over five acts shaped the cabaret that was An End to Dreaming as Dean and Diefenback as a musical Hansel and Gretel journeyed through the woods, travelling from darkness to light.

The fantastical story elements were crafted into a simple yet effective framework, that was then quickly filled with powerful vocals and original songs complimenting and amplifying each performer’s range, skill and comfort.

While the stage and costuming elements should be enhanced to expand upon the musical vibrance, it doesn’t detract while the artists switch between their instruments including synth and baby grand effortlessly.  Balancing their performance along a crafted vocal tightrope, Geppetto juggle familiar chord structures and tempos that hark back to my 80s musical childhood while maintaining a modern theatrical energy that grounds the work very much in the now.

Dienfenbach’s disarming vulnerability is soon smashed away by a cheeky grin when displaying his immense talent on the baby grand. However, his vocals are not then surpassed, for even with up-tempo numbers he still sings with a heartfelt intensity that adeptly juxtaposes with the accompaniment.

Dean performs with a stoicism that amplifies her vocal power and control as she jumps the breadth of her range with an intense ease.  Just when you think she has hit the ceiling, she steps up a level with her musicality or theatricality in a way that had me transfixed.

Next stop for this dynamic duo is New York, but when they return to Melbourne you can just call me the Wicked Witch, because however long Geppetto are stuck in the woods by the close of the performance, I’ll continue to wish that they will never ever leave.

An End to Dreaming was performed on the 13th – 14th July, 10:30pm, at The Loft – Chapel off Chapel as part of the Melbourne Cabaret Festival 2012