Nothing seems to go right for Meow Meow in her show Feline Intimate at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. She performs the opening to the Spanish show, forgetting she is in Adelaide, the audience forgot to bring flowers to throw onto the stage, no-one has anything to eat, the spots don’t light the audience, or they don’t turn off when she wants them to.
The dancers she pulls from the audience are not professionals, the set is not filled with stunning special effects, and when the fairy lights finally come on, they are “five songs too late.” Even when the audience eventually grasp that, in order for her to crowd surf, they need to stand up and fill in the gaps, the sheet of lyrics still seems to lag behind, and of course she didn’t have time to learn the words!
In my interview with her, Meow Meow said Adelaide audiences could expect “Life! Joy! Heart Break, Hilarity, Agony and Ecstasy in musical doses,” and these are certainly delivered. Unexpectedly and utterly hilarious, she reminds us what is at the essence of cabaret: an undeniable air of sex. With John Thorn on piano, Meow Meow takes us on an exploration of love through writers including Brecht, The Dresden Dolls, and Radiohead, with some wonderful self-penned songs thrown in.
Temperamental, dramatic, and always passionate, it becomes hard to decide on what to focus: the poor men (or incredibly lucky men, depending on your position) who are called from the audience to stroke and embrace her during a rendition of Brel’s “Ne Me Quitte Pas”, or to ignore that and just focus on the brilliant song and singing itself? Thankfully, Meow Meow has the skill to pull off a great performance in both, so no decisions have to be made.
And yet, it isn’t all crazy antics. When Meow Meow announces she is going to “sing something dark” and demands all of the lights are turned off (okay, so maybe that is still a crazy antic), it is just her wonderful voice which shines through. From the rich and sultry, to brilliant operatic, it is a voice that absolutely captures the audience’s attention.
In fact, in the entire production she has us wrapped around her little finger. Constantly holding several unlit cigarettes in her hand, and picking on various audience members (particularly unsuspecting men) to support her through the act (mostly literally, to yells of “Lift me! No, lift! What are you doing?!”), the audience are spell-bound, wondering where exactly the show will venture off to next.
The show is over all too soon, and with only two performances in the Festival, the run is also way too short. The crazy eccentricities and particular brand of dangerous cabaret genius that Meow Meow brings to the stage is a performance which leaves the audience laughing, cheering and wanting for more. Pure, raw, intimate, and sexy, Meow Meow is not a performer to let pass you by.
2010 Adelaide Cabaret Festival presents
Starring Meow Meow
Venue: Dunstan Playhouse
Dates/Times: 19 June 9.15pm, 20 June 8pm
Bookings: Bass 131 246