You walk into a small room: low stage and church-like pews. You see a young woman playing the guitar. People crowd in and you take your seat. She stops playing the music and starts talking. You are transfixed. Cat Commander is Falling.
One woman shows might either be intimate with the actor playing a character (see Year of Magical Thinking) or a selection of songs, loosely tied together (see most cabaret). Cat Commander is Falling bridges the gap, in a rare form of confessional (multi) character-based cabaret. Commander moves through 8 different characters, sometimes incarnations of herself, tied together by 13 original songs.
There is a beautiful combination of skill and raw talent on stage. Commander can convey a character with simple props, such as the refilling of a whiskey glass, and gives us a glimpse into a younger version of herself, past lovers and friends. She is seemingly unafraid to deal with intimate topics, although this is not a warts-and-all, bleak retelling of one’s life. That said, seeing a character’s trauma through the eyes of a policeman works well and is a fresh take on a well-worn subject.
The songs themselves are extremely catchy, able to convey the mood of the character without sacrificing word play. Pop culture references are also successful and not overused. Commander could go deeper with these songs and characters, as 50 minutes is not enough.
Director Karlis Zaid has staged the piece and it flows quickly and smoothly without awkward drops in energy. Cat Commander might be falling, but it is a wonderful ride on the way down.
The Butterfly Club presents
Cat Commander is: Falling
Venue: The Butterfly Club | 204 Bank Street, South Melbourne
Dates: Sun 8th Jan at 7pm and 9pm
Tickets: from $18