In recent times. the cabaret culture of Melbourne has truly blossomed, with both accomplished and fresh faces on the stage, and an ever-expanding and diverse audience in the seats. With the resurging popularity of cabaret, and the sheer number of performers putting up shows, comes the inevitable hit-an-miss nature of the performances offered to patrons. Meg Hoult’s My Notorious Life, in a one-night-only performance at Chapel Off Chapel proved to be a sure hit amongst the crowd that filled the very intimate Loft. When a performer is coined as ‘an extraordinarily gifted singer with a beautiful voice and great musical intelligence’ by none other than the legendary Marina Prior herself, expectations could not be any higher, yet Hoult certainly rose to the occasion in providing an experience for her audience that truly honoured Prior’s sentiments.
Hoult did well to appeal to a very broad and diverse demographic in the writing of her show, touching on topics ranging from internet and social networking culture, the importance of family values, imaginary friends and a throwback to the 1980s smash Perfect Match. Her innocent and calm tone, coupled with her very elegant look for the night was a very welcome juxtaposition against the hilarious (and sometimes notorious) stories she so openly shared. Many times, the audience responded with raucous bouts of laughter and applause, in solidarity. While much of this appeared to come from the friends and family of Hoult, the response was truly deserved – her ability to remain relatable and charismatic alongside her well-calculated humour was a true delight.
The aforementioned throw to Perfect Match was a true highlight, seeing Hoult turn the Loft into her own episode of the show. The collective stress of the men in the room was evident as Hoult worked through the crowed to find a potential suitor. It did appear that some felt uncomfortable in participating (and then speaking aloud if approached), as they didn’t seem to have been expecting, or welcoming audience participation. However, many of the participants were known to Hoult – including her brother, who remained in the game for quite some time – this only added to the fun. Once the game had ended, it is to Hoult’s credit that she was able to seamlessly weave in references to it throughout the remainder of her show, adding to the fluidity and continuing to strengthen her rapport with the audience.
Hoult’s vocals were a real treat. Beautiful and versatile. Her song choice varied in style and familiarity, spanning from the likes of current pop star Megan Trainor to music theatre icon, Jason Robert Brown. At times, Hoult’s performances of the selection of numbers came across as perhaps a little ‘too nice’ and put-together. For a title promising notoriety, it would have been awesome to have heard her strip it back and roughen it up a little bit. Despite this, her voice was a joy to listen to, and exceptionally impressive.
Sadly, Hoult’s performance was a one-night-only engagement at Chapel off Chapel. With any luck, the show will resurface at some point for those who missed out on the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful cabaret presented by a very obviously hard-working and passionate woman. I look forward to seeing what’s next for Meg Hoult.