As a 34 year old woman who has no children, no husband, struggles in the career department and is only a cabaret performer while in the shower after checking the windows are firmly closed, I wondered what I would get out of a show described in press notes as, WOMAN takes you on a humorous journey of what it is to be a mother, career woman, wife and cabaret chanteuse …”
A lot, as it happens.
WOMAN, performed by Jodie Stubbs with David Butler on keys, co-written with Tyran Parke, was restructured during development to incorporate the very real interruptions Jodie was experiencing while putting the show together. “Creating this show with Jodie was madness.” Mr Parke said. “Sometimes [Jodie]’d tell her family she was going to the shops but was actually sneaking away to sit in her car to rehearse in peace, singing to me on Skype. We kept trying to wrangle a show under these circumstances until I realised this WAS the show!”
And it is, during the 60 minutes the show is frequently “interrupted” by calls from home, where the frazzled babysitter has been unsuccessful in putting Jodie’s children to bed.
The show started promptly with an ‘Old Broadway’ style opening number, where something in Jodie’s voice and expression reminded me of Sutton Foster. The almost full audience was immediately appreciative.
WOMAN is a terrific showcase for Jodie’s versatile voice and has a great balance of humour, the human experience, history, and heart.
Jodie peppers a range of songs (bluesy jazz, pop and rock anthems, the Young and the Restless theme, Sondheim) with interesting snippets about women through history, teasing the men in the audience “Aren’t you glad you came boys?”, and of course – the calls from her traumatised babysitter. “It’s like ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here’. Except you’re not a celebrity”. A particularly funny moment is when she’s on the phone to the babysitter giving a blow by blow of exactly what to do to get the baby to sleep, while David plays the Mission Impossible theme. The clear highlight for the packed audience was when Jodie began to read from The Good Wife Guide. Jodie was also quick on her feet with a minor technical surprise, which the audience appreciated.
David Butler was excellent on keys and a terrific foil for Jodie. Almost playing the Felix Unger to her Oscar Madison, he is often tasked with keeping her on track after she is distracted by a call from home or gets on a tirade about the treatment of women through history; he is always on hand to keep the show moving. One of the highlights of the show is about halfway through when David is forced to continue the show in Jodie’s absence and has to sing the encore they have just decided to cut for time. I’ll save that one for you to find out in person!
Jodie’s 1920s style dress really helps to take you to a dance hall, particularly during a feather boa-ed period cover of ‘Material Girl’.
There were some poignant moments in the show too. “We can have it all. But not at the same time”. Or towards the end when, after 45 minutes of trying to shake her family she realises all she really wants is to go home to them.
A patron in my row actually brought a young baby with her, and usually I would think that wasn’t too appropriate at a Fringe show, but it was perfect for this show and even better – the baby loved it! S/he was completely captivated.
The staging was simple, a coat rack of costume/props, a gramophone and a keyboard. The lighting was simple but well done. I did struggle with the sound at times, with the occasional part being quite hard for me to follow, but I was sitting under the air-conditioning unit and The (surprisingly comfortable) Bally, is situated in the middle of a busy garden so there were definitely external factors there.
This show provides plenty of opportunities to laugh and to sing and clap along. Mothers should flock to this show, and quickly if the opening night crowd is anything to go by.
Admittedly there was parts of the material I couldn’t connect with as strongly as others in the room, but it’s an enjoyable evening even if you’ve never personally felt the terror of realising your daughter doesn’t have her Peppa Pig at bedtime.
Adelaide Fringe – The Bally at Gluttony
Rymill Park / Mullawirraburka, Corner of East Terrace and Rundle Rd
Tuesday 26 February to Sunday 3 March, 7:20pm
Tickets ($10 – $28) available at https://adelaidefringe.com.au/fringetix/woman-af2019