The Dark Garden Unplugged is Paul McDermott’s cabaret creation that combines and showcases what he does best. It’s a deep (and not so deep) exploration of loved ones long departed and life at its beautiful and bizarre best. McDermott’s songs vary from touching ballads, dark laments to a cryptic (and not so cryptic) piece that features a dead singer. Each song is interspersed with comical anecdotes and commentary which keep the pathos, wit and the pace of the show well balanced.
For those people old enough to remember, McDermott is well known for not shying away from topics that look at the darker and baser side of life and human nature. As many have witnessed from his days in the Doug Anthony All Stars, performing the sometimes risqué and twisted stylings of the comedy trio to his quick witted and satirical comments regarding current affairs in Good News Week. What may take some fans of his comedy by surprise is how in The Dark Garden Unplugged McDermott sheds a few layers of his sardonic skin to reveal moments of vulnerability within the song and some of the banter.
While a few songs didn’t quite hit the mark, there were many songs where the strong imagery of the lyrics, the beautiful composition of the piece and McDermott’s dulcet and rich vocals evoked with eloquence the emotions connected with the passing of a beloved. McDermott guided the audience through the gamut of the stages of grieving while also supplying a generous amount of comedic fodder by sharing some very funny stories. There was the performer and his goose from Blackpool whose unique talent he was privileged to witness while touring with the DAAS. He shared a tale about the relaxing glass of wine he had with his wife upon his return home after travels, as well as a few other moments from his very interesting encounters with notable performers/celebrities while working the festival circuit.
Only someone like Paul McDermott could lead a captive audience into his Dark Garden and then proceed to guide them through the pendulum extremes of experiences that range from death to the female orgasm via salient yet subtle songwriting and clever caustic comedy in one very tidy and entertaining cabaret performance.
The Dark Garden Unplugged
Venue: Powerhouse Theatre | Brisbane Powerhouse
Dates: 24 & 25 January 2014
Tickets: $45 – $41