Geraldine Quinn brings the memories flooding back with her hilarious and audience inclusive cabaret Sunglasses at Night: The 80’s Apocalypse Sing along Cabaret. 

Just a few years older than Quinn, I have strong memories of all the music played, and very little need for the larger than life lyrics on the screen for most of them. Sunglasses at Night, however, is definitely a show that can still be enjoyed by those who weren’t around during the 80’s (or were too young to remember). Quinn reminds us that the 80’s music scene was filled with “pretention… so much pretention” and was not all “ra-ra skirts and side ponytails”. No, it was an era of fear – fear of nuclear holocaust and communist plots – a fear which could apparently only be overcome with ridiculously nonsensical song lyrics, enormous shoulder pads and ‘poncy’ dance moves.

‘Sunglasses at Night’ was performed in The Loft at Chapel off Chapel. The relatively small venue wasn’t entirely full, but the audience were all onboard with the ‘audience participation’ theme for the evening, and did not make it feel like a small crowd. What appeared to be a somewhat unprofessional beginning to the show, when Quinn dashed across the stage to get to her hidden starting position, started the laughs early and set the tone for what was a fairly casual night, filled with impromptu banter and lots of audience interaction.
Quinn’s powerful vocals filled the small theatre and handled the power ballads with ease. While only an hour long, the nature of the music selection made this show a ‘big sing’, and showcased Quinn’s significant vocal talent. It was refreshing to see however, that she didn’t take herself too seriously and was willing to use her voice in less than complimentary ways to get the laughs.

The lyrics for each song, ably accompanied by Cameron Thomas on piano, were displayed on the back wall of the theatre, large enough for any 80’s child suffering from eye degeneration to read, and contained a wealth of amusing doodles and mondegreens to keep the laughs coming (and make singing difficult!).

Aside from the actively encouraged sing along component, the audience was also involved through activities such as a costume competition and recreating key scenes from 99 Luftballoons (which turned out to be a clever way of distracting the audience during the one song designed to be a ‘solo’ rather than a group sing).

‘Sunglasses at Night’ included 80’s classics such as ‘Love is a Battlefield’, ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ and ‘Gold’. There wasn’t a single song included that wasn’t immediately recognizable as an 80’s classic, (Quinn could readily host a sequel next year as there are so many great 80’s songs to choose from for a show like this).

Geraldine Quinn was thoroughly entertaining and natural, if slightly manic, as our tour guide down memory lane. The show was extremely entertaining and flew by much too fast – if my throat could hold out, I could have happily kept belting out 80’s tracks for hours!