Sadly, the 2019 Melbourne Cabaret Festival has drawn to its close for another year. As one of Melbourne’s most exciting winter arts events, the ever-evolving festival has been major launch pad for new cabaret acts for the last 10 years. Having attended and reviewed the wonderful opening night gala, the calibre and variety of show on offer this year meant that choices were going to be a difficult but unavoidable necessity. There was however, one particular invitation that resonated so much it demanded a fuller look and it was gratifying indeed to be served so well by intuition.
Taking her all over Australia and far beyond, Emma Dean has been touring Broken Romantics: A Unicorn’s Quest For Love for the past two years, and despite being the alluring cover girl of this year’s festival, there was sadly only two opportunities to see this wonderful show.
After writing and collecting songs about heartbreak since 1997, Emma Dean offered us an open glimpse into her storage locker. With its warming combination of humorous anecdotes, Dean’s own compositions and a potent selection from other artists like SIA, Broken Romantics is a deeply personal through line to accepting that harmony can only come when we shine the light that is too bright for some, inwards.
Supporting her musically, vocally and physically, Emma Dean shared her stage with a talented troop of other Broken and breaking Romantics. Tony Dean’s drums and synth work added significant depth to the lead on keyboards while Wayne Jennings beautifully trimmed moments with the melancholy only a cello can offer. Backing vocals from Katie Swan blended perfectly and tightly with Dean’s powerful range. Adding further theatricality to the evening, chorographer and performer Jamie Kendall physically infused proceedings with temptation, seduction, perversion, rejection and heartbreak. Anatomically correct according to my medically minded companion, Kendall’s progressive theft of four individual chambers of on-stage heart was powerful and served as the constant metronome to narrative.
While I was incredibly sad to hear that this was Broken Romantics last outing, there is thankfully much more to come from this artist. Help is on its Way will soon see Emma support Australian rock legend Glenn Shorrock and his band on a regional tour of Queensland as part of an amazing national choral initiative fostering a dialogue around men’s positive mental health.
Broken Romantics was a truly lovely evening of emotional transparency and Emma Dean is a wonderfully joyful discovery to make. With her abundantly evident capacity for theatrical pop songs, it came as no surprise whatsoever to learn during our brief post show chat that one of her ‘What next’ projects is to write a musical – from this incredibly talented and delightful performer- that really is something to look forward to.
2019 Melbourne Cabaret
Broken Romantics: A Unicorn’s Quest For Love
Venue: Chapel Off Chapel | 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran VIC
Dates: 21 – 22 June 2019
Tickets: $38 – $35