**** stars

By Bronwyn Cook

Tap…tap…tap…is this thing on? Blowing out the cobwebs from my reviewer toolkit as live performances around Australia kick-off again, from large scale musicals to intimate cabaret shows. I honestly can’t believe that my last review was November 2019. Absolutely grateful to be back!

And what a way to come back. First time seeing Tash York & Dolly Diamond. First time at The Butterfly Club. First time watching a show wearing a mask.

If you’ve never been to The Butterfly Club, it’s worthy of a review in itself! What a wonderful treasure trove of kitsch memorabilia, stuffed in every nook and cranny, encompassing an intimate theatre space, perfectly suited for cabaret shows.

The night kicked off with the beautifully stunning Task York, who was deliciously supported by her “Red Red Wine” gals Vino Fonteyn and June Bag. York accurately describes herself as ‘the wish.com drag queen version of Amy Winehouse’ in as much as she has an incredible singing voice & range.

As with what I imagine most cabaret shows will do for the next few months, the theme of her show was around the bonkers year that was 2020. And her cats (she has three by the way). With a delft mix of created lyrics using existing songs and original tracks, York reflects on the year with “Pandemic Mood”, “Get in the Bin”, “Cat Lady Blues”, “Don’t Call Me Karen”, “Positively Toxic” and “Don’t Cross Me”.

Vino and June not only accompany York vocally, but also musically on violin and piano respectively. This talented trio really shone in the improv number, where subjects like cats (it really was a theme), drinking wine (again…another theme), solving crippling loneliness and traveling overseas were expertly woven into hilarious outcomes.

York completed her dazzling and highly entertaining set with a heartfelt song, that I think we can always keep in mind “You are a treasure”. I’ll be keeping my eye out for sure for future York shows!

After a short intermission and another chance to wonder at all the curiosities at The Butterfly Club, it was time for part two of the night, the incomparable Dolly Diamond.

Oh, what a year poor ‘not angry, just disappointed’ Diamond has had. Thinking it is the start of 2020 and welcoming us to the Midsummer Festival at Hawthorn Arts Centre before the universe comes crashing down spectacularly.

Using a ‘this is your life’ diary prop, Diamond also uses her set to reflect on the year that was, with her trademark jaded comedic bitterness. From lost loves, missed celebrations, to unfulfilled travel plans, methods for staying sane and blossoming optimism, we traverse along memory lane with Diamond.

Diamond’s shows are never ones for the easily offended or PC crowd, which I adore. I personally am not a fan of insult queens, but Diamond only tips her toe into the genre, keeping more dry and witty.

Not so dry was Diamond after a VERY impressive turn on her spin bike, complete with very impressive cardio moves to a dance mix of “Eye of the Tiger”. Talk about working it!

York joined Diamond onstage for a very funny take on “I’d Do Anything” from Oliver. Which I’ll admit has been stuck in my head for nearly 24 hours now.

Unfortunately Diamond’s set was plagued by microphone problems, which caused every fifth or sixth word to drop out.

She rounded out her time on stage with two super fun singalongs to “Don’t Worry be Happy” and “Love is in the Air” (hopefully that is the only thing that is in the air).

All in all, a side-hurting, tear-inducing (the good kind), cracking night out.

Catch this pair if you can!