Tag: Steven Gates

Melbourne Fringe 2016: NOT ANOTHER INDIE CABARET

Stunning voice, sly wit, and blithely Bohemian

By Joana Simmons

Indie. Urban Dictionary defines it as “an obscure form of rock which you only learn about from someone slightly more hip than yourself”. Wikipedia says it “is a shortform of “independence” or “independent” and it may refer to social action, collections of individuals creating media for change”. In Jessamae St James’ new work Not Another Indie Cabaret, through her sweet harmonics, live-looping and full-power vocals she has the sold-out opening night audience with her the whole way through her self-deprecating reflection, celebration of wine and what it makes you do on ebay, and shout out to times when she is being an actual adult.

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Jessamae begins by live-looping an epic opening number which involves playing four instruments and satirical lyrics detailing all the clichés you see in cabaret. Does she even indie? Clearly. See, she is on a mission not to perform ‘just’ another indie cabaret. She wants to exceed expectations, and boy, does she ever. From the moment she opens her mouth, I am swept up in her voice and her sparkly stage presence. The satirical storytelling and original songs accompanied by obscure instruments (enter omnichord and trumpet kazoo) have us applauding and laughing in equal measure. The transitions between singing and speaking are slick, and she dives in and out of song in a way that makes me wonder if it’s going to be different every night, it’s that natural. Her skill range is mega: relaxed witty banter, poems that have great set-up and even better pay-off and a cluster of fantastic props she made herself. There are many great moments in this show- my favourites being the spoken word piece about being gluten-free (soooo indie, or s’indie; as the cool kids say apparently) and the song about singing mezzo soprano- I mean, it wouldn’t be a cabaret without one.

Being Fringe, tech and set up time is minimal, and the minor glitch that the show did have with Mavis, her loop machine, was handled so professionally I wasn’t actually sure whether it was all part of the performance. The limited amount of lights in The Butterfly Club’s intimate downstairs theatre were used very well to help set the various tones, though at one point I found it a little difficult to see the artist. The sound was seamless – with backing tracks magically weaving into her live accompaniment. Director Steven Gates (Tripod) ought to be very chuffed as it all came together in a tight glittery bow.

We are lucky to have so much talent and variety bubbling in the Melbourne Fringe Cabaret cauldron. If you are lucky, you will get a ticket to this one- it’s a refreshing look and delicious night out. Jessamae St James’ authentic artistry combined with her killer voice means this show is definitely not ‘just’ another Indie Cabaret.

Event Details
The Butterfly Club presents NOT ANOTHER INDIE CABARET 
VENUE: The Butterfly Club
Carson Place, Off Little Collins Street, Melbourne

DATES: Tuesday 20 – Sunday 25 September, 2016 The Butterfly Club
TIME: 8.30pm (50 minutes)
TICKETS: Tickets $25 – $32
BOOKINGS: www.thebutterflyclub.com

Image by Rachel Mia

REVIEW: Evgeny Shwarz’s THE DRAGON

Comedy trio Tripod spread their draconian wings

By Ross Larkin

Corruption. Power. Denial. Oppression… Sound amusing? Well, it is.

Toby Schmitz has adapted Evgeny Schwarz’s 1944 satirical play The Dragon into a modern theatrical feast of fiery wit and cleverly apt and poignant dialogue.

From the outset, some skepticism is understandable. Has director, Marion Potts, created a fairy tale? A pantomime? A musical? It’s a little hazy. Soon after, however, it really doesn’t matter.


Melbourne’s ingenious comic trio Tripod (Scott Edgar, Steven Gates and Simon Hall) have not only written the music for the piece, they also perform their catchy soundtrack while portraying the good guy onlookers as well as the contrasting evil three-headed dragon – one hilarious head each.

Sir Lancelot (played with gorgeous charm by Jimi Bani) arrives in a small village to slay said dragon and relieve its inhabitants of the oppression and control inflicted by their so-called ‘almighty’, while rescuing a fair maiden (Nikki Shiels), condemned to wed the manipulative beast.

However, the brainwashed town and its foolishly egocentric and impressionable mayor (the ever-impressive Kym Gyngell), are under the illusion the dragon is to be worshipped as their all-knowing leader, and remain under its spell, oblivious to their repressed existence, and therefore resistant to Lancelot’s quest.

In an Orwellian struggle to revolutionise a totalitarian-wracked culture (coincidently, or more likely deliberately, in line with current Australian politics), Schmitz’s impressively astute and often poetic dialogue, meshed with Tripod’s loveable commentating music and lyrics, is a delightful merry-go-round of tension and fun.

Perched on a very effective revolving set, The Dragon is confronting, thought-provoking, amusing and highly satisfying, thanks to a brilliant script and soundtrack, not to mention a delightfully talented cast.

The Dragon is playing now until July 26, 2013.
Wed to Sat 7.30pm, Sat 2.00pm matinee,
Sun 5.00pm, Tues July 23 at 6.30pm.

The Malthouse Theatre, 113 Sturt Street, Melbourne.

Bookings on (03) 9685 5111 or at www.malthousetheatre.com.au