By Suzanne Tate

MUST Cabfest continued on Friday night with ‘Queer Night’, with an eclectic mix of readings, spoken word poetry, music, comedy and circus. This evening’s line-up was curated by Paris Balla and Bee Montagner, and hosted by Balla and Ryan Hamilton. Balla and Hamilton approach was less ‘formal and polished’ and more ‘fun and frivolous’, undertaking some rather random segues, and presenting each performer with great enthusiasm and support.

The opening number Identity Crisis: The Musical got the night off to a great start. With a creative concept, strong performances from Sam Porter, Emily Keagan and Bee Montanger, and excellent harmonies, it left me wanting to see the next scene in the musical. Next, Hannah Arbuthnott brought us a comedy routine. Arbuthnott was amusing, if clearly nervous. They presented some excellent jokes that literally made me ‘LOL’, but the editing left the performance feeling slightly disjointed. A more authentic ‘stand-up’ experience would have been provided if the set was completed in one take, but it was entertaining regardless. Next, the mood turned sombre with some moving and thought-provoking spoken-word poetry from Nimasha Weerakoon. Her words help the listener to see the world through her eyes, and consider a different perspective.

Next Ezra Moroney presented two original songs, accompanying himself on keyboard. Moroney’s source of inspiration for both songs came from his interest in D & D, but as the lyrics revolved around character relationships, rather than the game itself, they did not exclude those with no knowledge or interest in the game. The songs themselves had appeal, but were hard to engage with due to serious pitch issues with the performance, although this improved markedly as nerves settled in the second number. Act 1 concluded with a reading by Caleb Darwent, On Reconnection. Darwent has a beautiful speaking voice and read with sensitivity.

Act 2 began with a well-known name to the Cabaret community, Alumna Mama Alto. She demonstrated her restrained, resonant power, rich vibrato (and impressive whistling ability) with a beautiful rendition of Moon River. Alto was followed by Eliot Walton with a fascinating spoken word poem ‘Circus’. Their poem eloquently portrays the conditions of depression, anxiety and dysphoria symbolically as performances at a circus. Poetry has been used powerfully tonight to express a range of serious issues and deeply personal experiences.

The next act returns us to a musical approach. Sam Violet, another MUST Alumni, brings us a very polished pop song, complete with music video, that you would not be surprised to hear playing on mainstream radio. Once again, the evening then takes a turn back to the spoken word, with a thoroughly engrossing storytelling performance ‘Thalia of the Sky’, both written and performed by Chelsea Rabl. A unique tale, told with passion and atmosphere by Rabl. The footage captured the feeling of a tale told around a campfire, or by candlelight, and the presentation captured the audience’s attention and did not let it go until the final word.  I feel this would have been an excellent spot to end the night, it felt like a natural point to conclude. However, one act remained, and we were brought quite shockingly back to daylight and bright colours with a circus performance by Ado Trivett. Trivet performed a cigar box juggling routine, filmed outside. The sequence was filmed in one shot, and was authentic to a live show, with one drop recorded, rather than being edited out for the online performance. Rather than damaging, this one slip enhanced the performance, helping to create the feeling of live theatre. The rest of the routine went without a hitch. I think that there were other points in the line-up where a circus performance would have fit more comfortably, but the curation of acts for the evening provided variety in moth mood and media.

The MUST Cabaret continues for three more nights from next Wednesday and is well worth a watch! You can also watch this week’s three nights on their Face book page. https://www.facebook.com/musttheatre


Image:  Sarah Walker