[ADELAIDE PREMIERE ~ ADELAIDE EXCLUSIVE ~ AUS ~ IF YOU LOVE… TO REMINISCE]
Space Theatre, Fri 7 Jun.
On the opening night of the 2019 Adelaide Cabaret Festival the weather outside is frightful, as Dean Martin once said, but inside the Festival Centre complex the foyers are bustling with people rugged up against the elements looking to get their ‘Cab Fest’ on. The umbrella of what constitutes ‘cabaret’ is a fairly broad one, perhaps even a Broadway one. Generally there is music, performance and narrative. This can take many forms, the song and dance man, smouldering heartfelt ballads of the Weimar Room, physical theatre, political satire, tomfoolery and playfully peeling off the layers of a dark story to find a heart of a story.
Taxithi sees three excellent performers (Helen Yotis Patterson, Maria Mercedes and Artemis Iannides) telling true stories of women who migrated to Australia in the 1950s and ‘60s. Some of those stories and horrific and upsetting, some are joyful. But they all tell stories from the heart of escape, of hope, of love and loss, and strength against adversity. There is a common theme of intense love and connection to their Greek homeland, of dysfunctional families, arranged marriages, of abandonment, determination and redemption.
The staging is brilliant in its simplicity; five curtain panels and three suitcases. At various times those curtains serve as a backlit memory of dancing, the window of a domestic situation and (my favourite piece of stage craft) as the material the three performers are sewing with reflective concentration. It is wonderful and subtle.
With two musicians tucked away behind the curtains to add backing, tone and atmosphere, the stage is left to these three remarkable women to take us through decades of the often bleak circumstances that lead to them being in Australia. Today, in a time when refugees and immigrants are still being vilified, racially profiled and held at arm’s length as the ‘other’ in the country, Taxithi takes us into that scenario from the inside of the outsider. It’s pretty remarkable.
Throughout there are many great vocal performances but as all the songs were sung in Greek it meant I found myself outside the piece wondering what was transpiring or how the story was being expanded upon in the musical interludes. Certainly the many Mediterranean faces around the audience were ‘on it’ some being moved to tears by certain songs or lyrics.
Taxithi is a fine example of the strong female voices that Adelaide Cabaret Festival Artistic Director Julia Zemiro has brought to this year’s programme.
Taxithi – An Australian Odyssey continues at Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, at 8:15pm until Sat 8 Jun.
Book at BASS on 131 246 and adelaidecabaretfestival.com.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.
Image courtesy of Sarah Walker