Queer Nexus, Fri Nov 21
Matthew Mitcham is better known as the Olympic and Commonwealth Games gold medal-winning diver, and not the cabaret artist performing tonight as part of the Adelaide Feast Festival. The determination and demons that has both helped and hindered Mitcham obtaining these diving achievements was the topic of his 2012 autobiographical book Twists And Turns and, in collaboration with a huge amount of talented names, Mitcham presents his multi-faceted cabaret show covering the poignant aspects of his life.
The evening starts from the very beginning, covering the relationship with his struggling mother, his trampolining career, the move to diving, his coaches, addiction, mental health issues, his public coming out, the successful 2008 Beijing Olympics and his contentment at not making the finals at the London 2012 Olympics. In his short 26 years Mitcham has a huge amount of content for a cabaret show!
Overall Twists And Turns both underwhelmed me in parts and completely mesmerised me in others. There were many moments of outstanding singing; his emotion enthralling the audience. The show was, at times, artificial and completely distancing too, especially at the beginning where Mitcham was essentially just reading a script with no real emotional connection. Some reworking of this part would be of great benefit to help create more of an instant connection with the audience with far less constriction.
Eventually Mitcham engrossed me in his story. Songs Perfect (Alanis Morissette), Little Water Song (Nick Cave & Bruno Pisek) and Dog (Andy Bull Feat. Lisa Mitchell) were poignant, raw and so powerful. Once Mitcham records and releases his versions of these songs, I would purchase them immediately. I absolutely loved the music arrangements and once coupled with Mitcham’s exceptional voice, it was absolute bliss. Musical Director Jeremy Brennan deserves huge accolades for the spectacular musical arrangements. Production elements like sound and lighting were also carefully designed and well executed. Visually it all looked great.
Director Nigel Turner-Carroll and script writer Spanky (Rhys Morgan) have implemented a great variety of ideas which were generally well executed. Mitcham went from playing the ukulele to jumping on the trampoline inside the venue to singing in his Speedos – recreating the perfect gold medal-winning dive from the Beijing Olympics. Spanky also joins Mitcham on stage often voicing the self-doubt and unhelpful coping strategies that Mitcham has struggled with.
by Bobby Goudie
Matthew Mitcham performs Twists And Turns at Queer Nexus, Lions Arts Courtyard, until Sat Nov 29.
Book at Feastix on 8463 0694 or www.feast.org.au.