Photo – Magnus Hastings
Back in 2016 I encouraged and then arranged for a group of friends to go along to Cadogan Hall in London to see Barry Humphries. This was a different show in flavour for one of Australia’s greatest exports; not a platform for his infamous characters but a show celebrating the music of the Weimar Republic. Joining Barry Humphries was a performer I had heard about but never quite managed to catch despite so many opportunities in all manner of venues.
“I can’t take my eyes off her” – “She’s mesmerising” – “What a voice”
Interval quotes from my party, all of whom are now slavish devotees of the incredible force that is Meow Meow.
Apocalypse Meow: Crisis is Born is essentially a litany of devastations for this self-proclaimed superstar of gargantuan proportions. Forced to perform a festive offering in November is a mere and minor disappointment compared to the venue. The Malthouse feels an unseemly step down from numerous international engagements, the Sydney Opera House, Melbourne Recital Centre and of course London’s Sam Wanamaker Theatre within Shakespeare’s Globe where this work was previously performed. After a series of other deflations including, no shows, limelight stealing band members, carolling children who are far too jolly even for orphans, there is ultimately resignation to disaster and some summoning of make do Christmas spirit. Meanwhile, for us in the audience, it’s all just unbelievably, hysterically and jaw droppingly wonderful as we serve ourselves up as pawns within the chaos to assist on demand against a tirade of ramble and abuse.
Beyond the hilarity and in between the subversion of theatre itself is a voice and a presence that is powerful, captivating, hypnotic, and so devastatingly beautiful it can only be possible from a woman who knows us so well because she has, quite literally, walked all over us.
To be hilariously screamed at on opening night for “not paying for our tickets anyway” in one second and in the next to find tears streaming down your face because an adaptation and delivery of a song thunders somewhere deep within you cannot be underestimated. Radiohead, Brecht, Weill, Sufjan Stevens, Patty Griffin, Nick Cave, Rodgers and Hammerstein and Chopin – all of them are there, stunning in whatever form or language they may take.
Generating such unbridled chaos is only possible with this enormous level of skill and with content so fiercely owned that spontaneous deviation from it becomes dangerously fabulous. Meow Meow is sublime: a master at flipping and conjuring precisely her desired mood and never has a woman on stage been so hilariously and dishonestly taunted by her band relentlessly repeating the first few bars of “I who have nothing” because she genuinely has everything.
Singer, Actress, Dancer, Writer, Music Maker, Theatre Maker, Crowd Surfer, Recording Artist, Collaborator, Comedian, Cabaret Artist, Multi Linguist, Diva, Theatrical Terrorist and a lexicon of other abilities even she may be unaware of.
Without question one of the most astoundingly talented people I have ever seen and a lady worthy of incredible international demand. For joyful sake and any other sake, go and spend an evening with this phenomenon while you can because you will regret, as I do, all the times you didn’t.
Malthouse Theatre presents
Apocalypse Meow: Crisis Is Born
Created & performed by Meow Meow
Venue: Merlyn Theatre | Address
Dates: 7 – 24 November 2019
Bookings: www.malthousetheatre.com.au | (03) 9685 5111
Originally commissioned and produced by Southbank Centre