Butterfly Club presents Elizabeth, a cabaret about love, loneliness and loss.
Melbourne Fringe features the sweet soulful sound of Lisa Crawley as Elizabeth.
The collaborative venture from Lisa Crawley, Rochelle Bright and Director Kitan Petrovski, is a sentimental view from behind the keyboard in piano bars. Elizabeth (Crawley) narrates and performs contemporary and original, indie-pop tunes to enlighten us of the numerous occupational hazards she has endured.
We’re asked to imagine its Christmas Day in a Japanese hotel in 2010. There’s Christmas lights flashing and carols chorus loudly, every thirty minutes in the international hotel lobby. Elizabeth says to look beyond the lights to the far right, down a corridor to where there’s a hidden bar. Venture in, then adjust your eyes in the dimly lit room, see past the handful of tables and chairs and next to the men’s toilet, on a tiny stage, you’ll spot her behind the piano.
She has another four hour shift ahead of her and sneaks in past the impatient eyes of her boss, greets the punters (the audience) with a polite apology in Japanese and tinkles out another number from her set of sixty or so to come. Her gentle lounge music is relaxing and she recalls the many stints in similar bars, being on the receiving end of backhanded innuendos and comments. The honey highlights in Crawley’s exquisite voice, enhance her purposeful lyrics in the collection of songs from her albums, as well as the odd ‘cover’ request from the audience.
At this latest venue in Japan, Elizabeth gives a few funny accounts from the lives of the regulars and transit bar flies. One antidote involves an escort girl sitting on a stool at the bar, who receives a text message that her ‘date’ has arrived. In the smoky haze her date turns out to be her uncle.
Elizabeth is a voyeur of the lifestyles of her regulars and makes assumptions from their appearance and choice of drinks or song requests. We get the sense she’s seen more of the bar flies than expected, having witnessed many a man ‘zipping up’ from her unfortunate vantage point next to the gents toilet. Years of piano bars have made (Crawley), a resilient performer having been on the receiving end of many a condescending request to ‘turn down her volume’.
The quirky relatable show coasts along in a series of songs and audience singalongs. Then her accounts take on a solemn tone. She’s eagerly awaiting her next break between sets (or when her boss isn’t watching), to check the flashing messages on her mobile phone. The messages are coming from London and her heart felt narration and accompanying tracks, help reveal an interesting back story to the plot.
Some technical glitches with the piano ‘comping’ and microphone volume were distracting.
In spite of that Elizabeth is a pleasant, comical and authentic observation of what it takes to fill a ‘tip jar’.