Dunstan Playhouse, Sat 6 Jun
Meow Meow entered the stage looking resplendent, and dragging ‘the cultural burden of cabaret’ behind her – a set of props for use during the show. She then proceeded to stamp her own place in cabaret culture with a definitive depiction of songs from Germany’s Weimar period. It was it must be said a mostly depressing selection of material – death, suicide and desperation featured large. But her ability to ‘embody the essence of a song’ kept most of her audience enthralled. Each song is a work of art. Together with musical collaborator Iain Grandage, they create a riveting sense of drama. Meow Meow sings, growls, whispers, and talks her way through pieces that are powerful and moving. And her use of pause and silence is masterful.
Much of the material, understandably, was sung in German. I was not bothered by not knowing the exact meaning of these songs – her ability to convey tenor and mood was enchanting enough. A piece by Brecht delivered as she lay prone on the stage was exquisite.
But, there were clearly some in the audience who struggled with not understanding the lyrics and wanted more songs in English. Perhaps more introductions before each song or printed program notes may have alleviated this problem, but introductions would involve her breaking character and her often spell-binding characterisation of the singers she represents is a large part of what she does so well.
It wasn’t all bleak though. She has a fine sense of comedy and the audience participation routines offered welcome comic relief. Unfortunately the show lacked an obvious big finish number, and the humorous encore, though entertaining, seemed at odds with the mood of the rest of the show.
Still, a great performance by a gifted interpreter of song.
Meow Meow performs His Master’s Choice at Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre, until Sun 7 Jun.
Book at BASS on 131 246 and bass.net.au. Click HERE to purchase tickets.