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LAUSTRALIE

Performed by Frederica Cunningham, Kali Hume, and Penny Yewers Directed by Richard Pettifer, Musical Director Ben Kiley The Paris Cat, 6 Goldie Place, CBD Until October 14 Starts 7:30pm, Running time: 1 hour. My long-time criticism of Australian cabaret has been unerring: theres simply not enough of it. So when local theatre company Sparklemotion launched its Fringe cabaret LAustralie, I was sufficiently enthusiastic. An intelligent and often hilarious melange of melodic revisions, les petits femmes de lAustralie coax us through a rapid succession of opera, music theatre, and Australian pop. Directed and hosted by Richard Pettifer as Monsieur Salis, performers Frederica Cunningham, Kali Hume and Penny Yewers charm and seduce as our European femme fatales. Gradually disclosing their dark histories, these French, Italian and German sirens vie for our sympathies with a series of poignant, comedic and harrowing renditions of genre favourites. Highlights include Cunninghams Surabaya Santa, Humes Surabaya Johnny, and a hilarious interrogation of the all too familiar sounds of pop idol Missy Higgins. Despite the CBDs Paris Cat providing a suave backdrop for this show, the space is occasionally restrictive in terms of sightlines and lighting. So too could the dramatic trajectory, often problematic to this genre, have benefited from a more linear approach. Having said this, the beautiful ebb and flow of this show due to the undeniable talent of these three performers will remain suitably distracting to this end. Special mention must go to the not so quietly achieving accompaniment of pianist and Musical Director Ben Kiley, whose sensitivity and support propels this Cabaret from reasonable to remarkable. LAustralie has its weaknesses, but this production is a fine example of the calibre of performer we can expect our training institutions and theatre community to give voice to. As proud students and graduates of Melbourne University and Conservatory, the vision and arrangement of this cabaret is an exciting indication of the young music and theatre practitioners Melbourne will welcome in the years ahead. Indeed, the initiative and professionalism of LAustralies performers and production team alike has translated into a confidence and intensity of performance that makes this show what it is.

Review by Laura Maitland