Susie Q Natalie Gamsu is the Matron Of Ceremonies. Harold Will Conyers is on the piano. Waiter Ash Flanders blends in with the Malthouse staff delivering drinks to the cabaret style tables around the outdoor stage where environmental researcher Zenya Carmellotti is seated. The passengers trapped on the S.S Metaphor cruise liner are the audience. We have been at sea a year when our tickets were only for a ten day cruise. We are forced to rewatch the same tired entertainment each night which goes absolutely nowhere, just like the ship and unfortunately just like the show.

Susie Q starts necking champagne without the use of her hands and the whole show veers off course to canned applause. It is deliberately cringy but we are not sure to what end. The story and the performances seem to drift one way then careen in a new direction regardless of any wind under the sail. This work tries to address, educate and entertain the audience about every issue under the sun through the metaphor of its punters enduring countless climate, political and social threats coming from the outside of the ship in. But it ends up capsizing on itself long before the impending metaphorical icebergs arrive. Maybe that is the point?

The outdoor venue and tables work perfectly as a cruise ship cabaret setting and the concept is good. The show itself though would land better at a venue like the Butterfly Club where things could be more focused. The cast are truly talented but they are fendered in by the story and concept, only occasionally getting to flaunt their talent.

The final number is the star of the show… literally… It's a man dressed up as a Mario Brothers Star Powerup. It should have been the opening bit to allow the audience into the madness of the piece from the beginning. One does wonder if Flanders had the idea for this star performance number and threw together some other driftwood ideas so it had something to float on. If you like vignettes, the 90’s, violence and over the top cabaret then dive on in. If you like a solid story, stakes and depth then stay on dry land.

Event details

Malthouse presents
S.S. Metaphor
by Ash Flanders

Director Sarah Giles

Venue: Malthouse Outdoor Stage | 113 Sturt Street Southbank VIC
Dates: 5 – 19 December 2021

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