Artspace, Fri Jun 6
Stand By Your Man meets Shaddup You Face!
Cabaret is meant to be festive, right? And what could be more festive than a great big Italian wedding? We are the guests in a show that has a party atmosphere from the outset. Brenta the bridesmaid is determined to outshine the bride, while telling all about weddings the Italian way. She is so looking forward to her own wedding; her glory box is the main stage prop. But there seems to be a problem with her boyfriend Larry…
In perhaps the flimsiest of plot devices, Brenta receives a visit from her TV hero, JR Ewing from Dallas, who instructs her that if she wants to get to heaven she must first experience hell. This becomes the queue for Brenta to perform a set of country classics that are part of Lippis’ brilliant stock in trade. In Dreams, Bang Bang, Stand By Your Man all shine. You will have heard the songs before, but perhaps never quite like this.
A trio of outstanding musicians led by musical director Stephen Pederson lift the show to another level. Dressed in formal wedding attire but easily able to flick the switch from wedding music to country hits, they remain unobtrusive but are clearly having fun and they keep things ticking over nicely. Two backing singers from Campbelltown, South Australia, fail to materialise and so two audience members (be careful where you choose to sit) are cajoled into taking their place for a spirited rendition of Dolly Parton’s 9 To 5.
JR turns out to be a surprisingly good dancer, and an exquisitely choreographed rendition of Some Velvet Morning will have you in stitches. Lippis’ performance of Brenta is a comic tour de force largely built around facial histrionics and a familiar exaggeration of young girls of Italian origin, but it’s obviously done with love and the laughs keep coming.
Brenta’s Bad Thing is a highly recommended night out for those who enjoy a bit of sassy, light-hearted cabaret.
by Adrian Miller
Carla Lippis performs Brenta’s Bad Thing at Artspace, Adelaide Festival Centre, until Sun Jun 8.