If cabaret holds up a mirror, it is the fun house kind. Certain features are made larger than life, but there is still a truth to be seen in the distorted reflection. So it is with the exaggerated characters encountered in MISFIT and CABARET WHORE, the Luckiest Productions double-bill presented at Chapel off Chapel last night.
MISFIT by New York based Australian Kim Smith is cabaret in the classic sense. In his new show, Smith offers the audience a staple of the genre – a provocative personality, aware of his talent, coyly eager to share.
As this self-titled misfit created from “glittery scraps of pop culture”, Smith effortlessly switches from English to German (who knew “I should be so lucky” could be so compelling), to Piaf-passion French. All through, Smith displays the enviable stillness of a performer in command of his medium, where just one cocked eyebrow or measured gesture can deliver the message. Joking that an audience generally claps each time he says his name, Smith has no trouble getting this Chapel audience to comply.
Sarah-Louise Young’s CABARET WHORE presents five different characters vying for the audience’s approval. From a perky country crooner with seemingly endless euphemisms for sex to a pitch-perfect fragile chanteuse, each new character builds on the endearing nuttiness of her predecessor, until Young’s full ménage are revealed in all their glory.
Young is possessed of a gorgeous and supple voice that lends itself to every genre represented by her inventions. Standouts include her on-the-way-out lounge singer Bernie St Claire in a part parody – part homage to the Broadway divas of yesteryear, and the tortured French “La Poule Plombee” (damn that little sparrow!), a character that manages both satirical and breathtaking at once. Young is one funny lady – or five! – covering sex, god, immigration and ukuleles in a series of original songs as witty as they are surprising and lovely.
In the hands of two consummate performers, life really is a cabaret – a curious, clever journey where life is both parodied and held up to the light. Turns out misfits and cabaret whores can achieve this balance beautifully.
Kim Smith in MISFIT
Sarah-Louise Young in CABARET WHORE
Chapel off Chapel, Melbourne - Friday 22 to Sunday 24 June
For tickets and more information click here.