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short and sweet cabaret- week 1

Jade Yeong's piece WOK OFF TO WHERE YOU CAME FROM demonstrates racism is still alive in contemporary Australian society. Pic Diana Popovska
Jade Yeong’s piece WOK OFF TO WHERE YOU CAME FROM demonstrates racism is still alive in contemporary Australian society. Pic Diana Popovska

A thoroughly engaging night of cabaret entertainment awaits you at the New Theatre, King Street Newtown.

Short & Sweet is a competition showcasing both seasoned professionals, and talented upcoming theatre, cabaret and dance performers. The cabaret part of the Short & Sweet Festival takes place over two weeks, with the second week beginning on Wednesday 15th January. Audience members are invited to vote for their two favourite cabaret pieces, and the winners will be showcased at the Gala Finale on Sunday 19th January. Notices appear in the foyer warning of adult content and cigarette smoke! However, you should also be warned that you will be entertained to the max!

Cabaret is traditionally a mix of entertainment featuring music, comedy, song, dance and drama often with some social commentary thrown in. All these elements were present in spades on Friday night. My favourite piece was DANCE WITH DE VIL featuring Brendan Hay as Cruello, the son of the infamous Cruella de Vil of The Hundred and One Dalmatians fame. This stunning son appears on stage in a fur coat “to die for”, impressive sunnies and a hair-do similar to the one made famous by his mum. Having spent 22 years locked in the dungeons of Hell Hall, he has emerged to take on the roles of playboy, fashionista, and singer of songs about Mummy! The writing is clever and well paced, and the performance a rich mix of outrageous humour and haunting beauty, especially with the finale, “All the Things You Are”. Cruello has some fabulous lines which clearly communicate his arrogance and the effects of long term imprisonment:

I’m not used to this level of human interaction! &

How can there be so much that you all don’t know?

His use of an iPad to add punch to the lyrics of Buses and Trains was inspired and very entertaining! Faaabulous Daaarling!

WOK OFF TO WHERE YOU CAME FROM, featuring Jade Yeong, was an entertaining, intelligent, compassionate examination of the racism experienced by many second and third generation Australians. Yeong plays the part of a young woman of Chinese Malaysian descent who, while feeling 100% Aussie, suffers constant racist attacks from less evolved members of our society, because of her Asian looks. Yeong’s choice of songs and her vocal delivery were impressive, and the piece was the more compelling because it took the audience on a journey through many emotional states from laughter, through shock to sadness. Her final line: What will you do? followed by immediate black-out, challenged audience members to examine their own behaviour in relation to this issue. Impressive work!

A DATE WITH DALI featuring Marlena Rosenthal offered no music, singing or dancing but was immensely entertaining! This piece is almost unclassifiable, but perhaps Rosenthal’s description of herself as a “Jewish Clown and Mentalist” does the job! Rosenthal began by inviting an audience member to join her on stage. This enabled her to show her mentalist skills by asking him to confirm that the name she had written on a card was indeed correct; she had written “YOUR NAME”! Droll yes – but everyone laughed, including this reviewer! The other reason for having a “date “ on stage with her, was to allow the audience to see that the stunts she performed were in fact real, and not illusion. Rosenthal then proceeded to hammer nails into her nose, after asking her date if he had ever “nailed” a chick before!  Next, she walked and jumped on broken glass, and swallowed a huge balloon snake, and then recovered it from her nether regions, where it had been transformed into a balloon dog! Rosenthal has impeccable comic timing and achieved a wonderful connection with the audience. I would definitely walk across broken glass to see her perform again!

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