Down a city laneway and up several flights of stars, the kitsch environs of The Butterfly Club are perfect for Georgia Darcy’s French cabaret that mixes top notch singing with wacky comedy. Fresh from a season at the Adelaide Cabaret Fringe Festival, Under the Paris Sky has had various iterations over the past years, including dinner theatre. Here it’s a standalone hour of vocals peppered with broad humour and a couple of over-the-top characters.
Despite a small audience on a cold Tuesday night, Darcy sung her heart out, channeling her French Diva when she wasn't being her actual Aussie self, introducing the songs and making them relatable to non-French speakers. Her introductions and riffs on translations of French words brought an accessibility to the lyrics, even when they weren't literally understood. She also goes over the top with a character called Julienne Carrott who comfort smokes her marital blues away.
Life being a paradox is Darcy's theme that she likes to riff on and weaves into the material. She explains that she’s probably too old and tired to keep doing cabaret, yet she loves it so much and can’t stop. From her performance, that’s easy to believe. She was having so much fun that she'd probably do the show even if nobody was watching.
Darcy has an incredible voice and an obvious passion for French language particularly. She is not a native speaker yet has an intimate knowledge of its tones and subtleties. From Edith Piaf to more modern French vocals from Zaz, with some Jacques Brel and others thrown in, she can do it all and is not afraid to mix genres up or inject below-the-belt zingers with her Aussie drawl.
Simon Walters accompanies on the keys. Walters is a good sport, thrust into corny jokes like playing an entire song with a rose in his mouth or bantering back and forth about a missing Eiffel Tower head piece. Sidekick French maid Cecile (Darcy’s real-life wife, Louise Lawson) is a silent comic presence. Not good at cleaning or any practical job, she can open champagne bottles with her legs and wander around confusedly with snorkeling gear and a paper mache fish as accompaniment to the vocals. She brings a bit of silly fun to proceedings, especially in a double-entendre sketch with Darcy about making a Peugeot purr.
Darcy comes across as a straight shooter (even complaining about too much housework), but when she sings, she transforms into a totally different person. The mix of highbrow song with quick and dirty gags feels very French-Aussie! Under the Paris Sky is feel-good winter warmer from a little known (in Melbourne), but big talented performer.
The Butterfly Club
Under the Paris Sky
Venue: The Butterfly Club | 5 Carson Place (off Lt Collins St.), Melbourne VIC
Dates: 1 – 6 August 2022
Tickets: $37 – $33