Where the Wild Roses Grow



Where The Wild Roses Grow

Brisbane Cabaret Festival & Studio 37

SYC Studios

2nd November 2012


Reviewed by Emilie Guillemain 


It’s a Friday night and I’m walking down Manilla Street in East Brisbane. I’m on the hunt for SYC Studios and all the while I’m walking past quiet houses, businesses with bizarre names and thinking to myself…this looks like an interesting area to be staging a theatre performance. During Anywhere Theatre Festival earlier this year (registrations for 2013 now open!), XS Guest Reviewer, Sarah Knight, experienced a similar evening.


When I reach the studio I just have to smile. There is mismatching furniture spread out across the room, a balcony bar and people lounging about on couches with wine, listening to smooth music. The stage is doused in red lighting and there are rose petals on the studio floor.


The audience is here to catch Babushka, a dark and saucy cabaret performance exploring lustful tales of romance and murder. Before the show gets underway however, the audience are welcomed by 3 separate support acts.


First off was a gorgeous little band called The Pockets. If their name alone doesn’t already make you say “awww…”, then their tunes definitely will. The group delivered a few songs with a 1950s country/folk vibe. A perfect blend of acoustics, great voices (and towards the end, a touch of the kazoo!), will make you want to wrap a ribbon around the band members and tuck them in your pocket.


Then there’s the femme fatale, Ms Leah Shelton. She combines recorded sound with exaggerated movement and plays out a series of short death scenes set in 1920s America. The scenes had a real sense of film noir and took you right to the heart of the jazzy streets of New York and Chicago. Charmingly funny and a little bit mental, Ms Shelton was a delight to watch.


Last of the support acts was Bianca, a trapeze artist who walks on stage blindfolded and mounts a hoola-hoop hanging from the ceiling. The sound of a heartbeat echoes through the studio, faster, faster… To Build A Home by The Cinematic Orchestra begins to play as Bianca proceeds to dance with this circle in the air in silence. Spinning, twisting, wrapping her body around the hoop so elegantly. I sit with tears in my eyes from beginning to end.


With my heart having already overflowed, I eagerly await Babushka, and whilst a completely different style to the previous three acts, I am not disappointed.


Five women walk onto the stage. They front red and black sultry outfits, corsets, killer heels, and fine, pin-curled hair. A young man takes position to the side with the keyboard and the ladies burst into their opening number, which literally brings chills to my skin. They grab the audience from the get-go and once they wrap up the song, attempt to get more acquainted.


“What a delectable platter of people that have been served up to us tonight,” says one with fiery red hair as she looks around the audience daringly.


“I could take a bite out of each and every one of you…”


With such powerful voices, Babushka proceeded to stun the audience with renditions of songs by a range of artists including Nick Cave, Tori Amos and My Chemical Romance. Each explored the topic of murder, some tales of mystery, some of lust and love. Every now and then the violin would be brought into the mix, adding an extra touch of brilliance to the piano and opera voices filling the studio space.


It was Babushka’s cover of Foster the People that really took me by surprise, however. Delicately opening with the first few lines of Pumped Up Kicks, it was that moment where I was trying to determine where I’d heard this song before and once I’d caught on, I was thrilled by their cover of the wildly popular American hit of 2010. The song built with energy and power, from one woman’s voice to the five of them belting out the lyrics together.


Babushka effectively interwove stories using humour vs tragedy and pleasure vs pain during their performance. A sassy and witty slice of cabaret, Babushka was a highly entertaining piece of theatre presenting five extremely talented singers. They are woman, hear them roar.


Check out Babushka’s upcoming gigs, this weekend at Brisbane Powerhouse for the 2high Festival and next weekend on the Gold Coast!




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