Anyone calling themselves The Jane Austen Argument has got to be worth a look at.
Musically, this duo (Tom Dickens and Jennifer Kingwell) are very fine; they’re a talented pair of singer/songwriters who were highly commended by last year’s Melbourne Fringe. They open with a love song called Why Aren’t You in Melbourne which strikes a note of infinitely memorable, urban romanticism. As lyricists they’re blessed with impressive talent; definitely a pair to watch out for. Their songs are haunting, witty, original and beautiful. Kingwell is a very stylish, technically impressive pianist and they both have lovely voices which they use to terrific effect, although she tends to lose strength in the lower registers. They’re a bit loose with their microphone work too, at times you have to work hard to hear them.
The Spaces Between is a reflective meander through life and love in terms of relationship; there are some lovely observations and narratives although the work is stronger when, as ever with this sort of thing, they let the stories speak for themselves with detail and colour. The moments when the friendship between the two comes into play are nicely moving. The philosophical musings occasionally come across as bloodless, angst-ridden in a cliched arts-student kind of way; the spoken word aspect is much less impressive than the musical side of things, not least because both performers are too young to be supplying any answers; they’re better off when they’re asking the hard questions. I wonder if they might not do better by developing the literary references further?
Kingwell is yet to find her stage persona, she comes across as mannered and stagey, trying too hard. Tom is a more robust presence on stage but the show suffers overall from a certain stiffness. They should have ended on the exquisite Let Me Sleep instead of including the last song, which seemed as though it was tacked on. My other niggle is that it was too cold in The Liber Room.
The Jane Austen Argument present
The Spaces Between
Venue: The Liber Room, South Melbourne
Dates/Times: 7.30pm, 22 – 24 July, 2011
Tickets: $35 / $32
Duration: 60 minutes approx