05
Nov
12

A Night at the Judy: Undies & Courtney Act at Brisbane Cabaret Festival

Brisbane Cabaret Festival

A Night at the Judy: Brisbane Cabaret Festival

The Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts

25th October – 11th November 2012

 

Reviewed by Meredith McLean

 

This was not an average night at the Judy. Everyone was here for one thing and for one thing only; the Brisbane Cabaret Festival. Starting on the 25th of October, there is still a chance for you to experience this great celebration of wit, charm and music that is cabaret. Bringing together a cornucopia of spectacular creations from Brisbanites and fellow Aussies in theatre. I was lucky enough to indulge in two wonderfully funny and contrasting performances on Saturday night.

 

Arriving while the night was still young, the valley was already buzzing with promise of a good time. On my way to the Judy I had already passed a man in a bear suit, two women dressed as some kind of sci-fi woodland spirit mash-up and either the second coming of the Holy Saviour, but more likely it was just a man dressed as Jesus. Nothing could faze me once I finally stepped into the foyer of the Judith Wright Centre. I was ready for madness.

 

And that’s exactly what I got.

 

Megan Shorey

Megan Shorey beaming with those manic, expressive eyes of hers has stunned us many times over with her past award winning works. So I had high hopes for her show Undies. Sometimes I wonder what deal she made with the devil to acquire a voice like that. It’s as if it has a persona all of it’s own. Really, there should be a spot on the flyer for it. “Undies by Megan Shorey starring Megan Shorey’s Voice!”

 

Note to self: Get in touch with the marketing team and suggest this to them for any of her future shows.

 

Undies starts off with the a touch of history. Bloomers, britches, pantaloons, pantihose, undergarments, you name it. The obvious starting point for a show of such matters. But then we divulge deeper into aspects I never thought of. It’s the kind of discussion between performer and audience when the moment Shorey preaches her thoughts you realise you knew this all along, just never consciously acknowledged it. There are some serious numbers too, though my favourite of her songs laments how you’ll never get spanked in Spanx. But you’ll learn all about that if you see the show.

 

Even the moments between the melodies embrace the hilarity of this production. Megan Shorey is someone who is naturally funny. In her face, her voice, she knows what to say and how to say it. But it’s as if she doesn’t even try. It’s as if we the audience are her diary and her thoughts that she shares with us are just coincidentally hilarious. Unfortunately, the show has to end but this does not mean there isn’t an encore. It is undoubtedly a show worth seeing. (Like all of Shorey’s work, this show is too good for one-season-only so you’re sure to see it pop up again. Keep an eye out for future show dates at a venue near you).

 

There was a brief lull before I had to head back into the fray. The lights, once more bright, guiding me to my seat and then simmering down to darkness for the next show to begin. It was the same stage, but somehow I was on a new planet.

 

Alien of Extraordinary Ability is a drinks in hand kind of adventure listening to Courtney Act tell us about her intergalactic travels to America and back. Courtney Act made her break back in 2003 on Australian Idol. From there she has climbed ARIA charts, rocked around the globe and even performed for Lady GaGa at her private party.

 

Courtney Act

This show is classic cabaret with contemporary twist. Beguiling us with anecdotes of Oprah, the highlife of West Hollywood and the dangerous fun of “Disgraceland” Even Dr. Phil crops up in this galactic conquest of hers.

 

Unfortunately the rhythm I’d felt with Megan Shorey was not the same with this second performance. Courtney Act did confess to us she had “a frog in my throat. He was a prince this morning…” but this does not excuse the occasional off-key tones I heard. The worst was during her rendition of Suddenly Seymour from one of my favourite musicals, Little Shop of Horrors, when she and the pianist (whom had a stunning and beautiful voice providing spectacular back vocals mind you) tried to harmonise the final verse. Somewhere in the beautiful mess of all that glitter, stage light and pulsing music, their voices just could not find each other. Instead, producing an awkward, stilting closing to the song. Otherwise the set list was perfect. Witty, funny, and Courtney looked fabulous dancing in her silvery extraterrestrial get-up.

 

Some of the jokes in Alien of Extraordinary Ability came off a little too blunt and forced. Courtney’s ad-lib at times threw me too. There was a moment when a couple of latecomers apologetically scurried to their seats and she asked, “Welcome to the show. Can I get you anything? A watch perhaps?” It just had a tone a touch too snippy.

 

Despite these brief but jilting moments the show was everything to be expected. Bright and buzzing, funny and raunchy, and thoroughly sequined. The show was a great cap to the night leaving everyone giddy and laughing.

 

You do not want to miss out on this celebration of feathers, jazz, sparkling costumes, loud voices and swanky piano players. Undies with Megan Shorey and Alien of Extraordinary Ability featuring Courtney Act, are not much more than a snippet of Brisbane’s Cabaret Festival.

 

The close is nearing – the  11th of November to be exact  – so make sure you get tickets soon.

 

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