The performance is compiled of five short performances by five different artists. These pieces are intimate and daring, linked by a common theme of the Gay Identity. The casual relaxed atmosphere of the cabaret allows this sometimes sensitive issue to be addressed in a personalized rather than politicised way. The Judith Wright Centre is certainly an ideal setting for such a performance, and it is evident that Chris Maver has much to thank them for. Creator and drag Queen Chris Maver opens the evening in gold gown, belting out a tune and gracing the audience with her divine and flamboyant presence.
While Gary Nunn sets the mood on the piano, Maver sits down and tells the audience a ‘fairy tale’ about a Princess (who is really a queen) who endures trials and hardships of trying to find her own identity and community. An evidential parody of Maver’s real life struggle in his path to staging The Fruit Tingle Cabaret, he includes audience pleasing anecdotes about the evil tyrant Howie-Wowie and his denial of gay marriage. Maver is charming and natural, unafraid to curse when things don’t run smoothly, which only adds to the raw and exposed nature of the show.
Simon Chan presents the second segment of the show. He performs quirky, upbeat satirical tunes such as “I’m Gaysian, I’m Gaysian, I didn’t vote One Nation” and “It’s everybody’s right to be a Racist”. This man is undeniably cute. The simple and clever composition of his songs makes up for his not so strong vocal ability, and his delicate looking figure contradicts his subtly powerful lyrics. The type of performance that ‘is funny because it’s true’, Chan reflects on our society and finds us all just as imperfect as each other. Chan’s performance is followed by the powerful singer, Jo Doyle. Jo’s style is much more down to earth than both Chan and Maver, instead opting to perform heartfelt ballads that provide the audience with a glimpse of this woman’s soul. Her performance simultaneously emits joy and pain, and her choice of music tells her story. The ballads are broken up by endearing tête-à-têtes with her guitarist (who’s subtle humour threatens to overwhelm Jo’s solo performance). I would love to see Jo Doyle in a solo show of her own, separate to the cabaret, for her strength as a performer lies in her ability to simply be herself.
Divo Sock and Sophia Woods of Switch Physical Theatre perform the third segment – a combination physical theatre and circus piece titled Bent. Unfortunately, this part of the evening was where the raw attitude, which I love for its ability to breathe life into performance, didn’t really work for a piece that presents high skill levels. This piece felt a little sloppy and loose, and needed tightening and strengthening to bring it to its full potential. That said, the performers still did a good enough job, the work was entertaining and it was probably the most artistically bold piece presented.
The final piece was presented by Fez Fa’anana and Mark Windmill – another dance/circus piece. Fa’anana delighted the audience with his dancing and rapping, while Windmill dazzled the audience in his work on the tissue. Probably the most memorable performance of Memory I will ever see involved Windmill dressed in a white lycra body suit and long haired ‘mullet’ twirling around in ironic moves relating to the songs lyrics. I think it was one of those ‘had to be there’ moments for my description of it certainly doesn’t do it justice, but it extremely funny and clever.
The raw feel of the evening gave it an under-rehearsed yet over-confident edge. While each piece was a little underdeveloped, the performers themselves still had poise enough to present a good show. Even when they made mistakes it just added to the liveliness of the production. I do not feel this is the end of The Fruit Tingle Cabaret. Certainly, it feels like this has more potential yet. I look forward to seeing if Chris Maver develops his show any further.
Chris Maver Productions and The Judith Wright Centre presents
The Fruit Tingle Cabaret
Wed 6 - Sat 9 Jun
7.30pm (doors open 7pm)
Reserved Cabaret Seating - Web $23, Phone & Door $25 (no concessions in cabaret section)
UnReserved Theatre Seating - Full: Web/Ph & Door $18/$20
Concession: Web/Phone & Door $13/$15
Box Office: Monday to Friday 12 noon - 4pm 07 3872 9000