From the moment she steps out on the stage, the strength and conviction in Amity Dry is evident. This is a woman with a message to share. Fortified is the raw and honest story of Amity Dry’s journey from falling in love and marrying her prince, to the decision to leave her husband and the dream home they had created, the grief of divorce and the experience of being single again.

The strength of this show lies in the extraordinary original compositions, all written by Amity Dry, except for one song written by her Musical Director and accompanist, Jamie Burgess. The songs showcase Dry’s incredible vocal talent as well as her composition skills. They also reveal the truth in her heart. It’s hard to imagine a collection of cover songs having quite the same impact.

Amity Dry cleverly interweaves story telling between these songs, starting with how she first fell in love and identifying some of the early warning signs. As the show unfolds the audience gains further insight into her decision to walk away from the marriage. A cabaret show could have been a vehicle to spill all the beans and throw her ex-husband under the proverbial bus. Wisely, Amity Dry chose not to, and instead what audiences are presented with is enough information to fill in the gaps, but at the same time feel the relevance and connection of this story to their own personal lives. There were many nodding heads and wiping of tears throughout the show. This is not a woman who is jaded and bitter, but rather a strong and empowered woman; a woman who has been through a war she never wanted to enter, but has come out victorious.

Fortified touches on some powerful topics and explores the reasons why women leave a range of situations. Some are mentioned almost in passing – evident for those who share a similar story, but without dwelling on some of the heavier issues unnecessarily. It is also peppered with sufficient humour to engage and entertain the audience and avoid the show feeling too heavy. Overall, it’s an entertaining but powerful and thought-provoking night of cabaret.

For those who have loved and lost, there will be many moments of connection to Dry’s own story. For those who are still happily married it will serve as a wake-up call to not take your own relationship for granted and to invest into each other’s lives. And for the singles in the audience – it’s a reality check of the challenge of relationships and a warning to not remain in one that is unhealthy.

Fortified is a mature and intelligent work. It doesn’t glorify relationship breakups, but rather celebrates the discovery of finding oneself again, finding the strength to continue and ultimately, to be fortified. Definitely worth seeing.

Fortified is now playing at Melbourne’s Chapel Off Chapel until Saturday 4th May. Tickets are available at http://www.chapeloffchapel.com.au

Amity Dry’s new album, also titled Fortified, is available for purchase at the venue.

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