Coffee and Cigarettes | Mia MiaImage by Rik McKenzie

This was my first visit to The Bohemia Cabaret Club in South Melbourne and I seriously doubt it will be my last. What a warm, fun, bohemian place it is. Colourful, plush, seductive, there is food and booze and stylishly sexy staff everywhere.

Moving through the packed bar/restaurant area to the intimate theatre out the back, I hit a hitch; my name was not on the door. The door guy handled the situation politely and professionally, and I suspect his attitude is indicative of the friendly professionalism of the whole Bohemia Cabaret Club package. Although I'm not quite sure why scrawled names on scraps of paper are still used. Technology anyone?

But the show.

Mia Mia took to the stage after a bit of a delay, and overall, for me, the show was uneven. In story and song, she tells of her first love (I don't ever want to hear the name Liam again) and her many other loves, in parts using coffee as a metaphor for her loves, or love generally. She handled the low notes better than the high and is definitely an engaging story teller and entertainer. She is genuinely beautiful and sexy, with smouldering dark eyes, and she looks a bit of all right when she performs so casually in her lingerie.

But there was something lacking. She was not completely convincing, not completely engaging, no matter how much eye contact was made or how many far-away gazes into the past were made. This kind of story telling, I think, rests on the performer's ability to convince that the story is real, and for me this wasn't coming through here. This felt like a performer performing how they thought a cabaret performer should perform. The best cabaret performers, the best story tellers, pull you into their world and make you feel the way they feel. This wasn't happening here. Almost, but not quite.

And the coffee thing. I really didn't know what to make of that. It was an attempt at humour, and that's probably the worst thing you can do with humour. But then, perhaps it was just me. Perhaps I wasn't getting the genius of it. I don't know. I do know that my plus one nudged me because I was – apparently – shaking my head in bemusement at one point.

In the end, the show is not bad enough to not go and see it. It's still an enjoyable night out, but if you compare it to the very best (Camille O'Sullivan and Meow Meow, for example), it might disappoint.

2013 Melbourne Cabaret Festival
Coffee and Cigarettes
Venue: Bohemia Cabaret Club | 226-228 Coventry Street, South Melbourne
Dates: 29 June, 5 & 6 July, 2013
Tickets: $23 – $20

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