Review: The Gipsy Club Cabaret

 Within the bohemian inner city suburb of Northcote, beyond unmarked doors and up a set of stairs you’ll find venue 24 Moons. A mysterious and fantastic night spot / performance space that transforms once a month into The Gipsy Club Cabaret.

Upon entry, I was warmly greeted by some friendly door staff who mentioned a great place for me to sit. I appreciated this, as it was my first time visiting this venue (and show). This is definitely the type of place that rewards those who arrive early!

 Welcoming the audience and setting the musical tone for the evening, band The Royal High Jinx opened with an upbeat set of songs which had the audience clapping and cheering along. Their happy beats were infectious, with audience members swaying and moving to the beat (which carried throughout the evening). MC Michael Wheatley looked much like a cross between a bohemian and Gomez Addams, and had plenty of snappy lines to entertain the audience with between acts (as well as a song, which was a nice touch). The Gipsy Club Cabaret is billed as a showcase of Eastern European style music, dance, sideshow and circus and it delivered in the most entertaining and surprising ways! Many of the dance acts which were set to tribal and Middle Eastern music truly took me away to another place. I honestly forgot that it was a Friday night in suburban Melbourne while I was there. There is naturally much to write about when a smorgasboard of entertainment happens right before your eyes, however I’ll try to pick some highlights (as hard as that may be!)

The Quizzical Mr Jeff was a highlight of the evening with his sublime manipulation, juggling and surprise productions. Fast paced and fantastic, when The Quizzical Mr Jeff is onstage you do not want to be looking anywhere else! Throughout the evening, the audience was introduced to many dancers, however they were all a highlight for me – whether it was dancing with swords or pretty flowing garments, or the usual bellydancer’s skirt that jingles, it was so easy to get carried away with the rhythm and spectacle of it all. Ronicka and Ayfer are wonderful to behold as a duo, as much as when they are solo performers. I much enjoyed Afyer’s dancing in tall heels, with her sassy dramatic hair flicks. Ronicka’s precision and strong poses were equally as captivating. Azra and her belly dance school were a delight. Azra’s solo performance was beautiful and exciting as she held all the eyes in the room. Dancers from her school were joyful, energetic and brought a whirling, whimsical feel to the evening. During their performance, we may as well have been in a courtyard in Morocco or in a far away place. All the dancers of the evening were spellbinding.

 My personal highlight of the evening was Ferdi Cobra’s Kiss. I have seen many shows including fire performances / fire dancing, however none to date have ever been like Ferdi Cobra’s Kiss! Tattooed and toned, Ferdi wound his way through the audience, steaming up even the coldest of audience members. Quick with a flame and his hips, Ferdi lavished attention on the(mostly female) members of the audience. They say “it’s all in the hips” and that hips don’t lie and well those sayings are all true in Ferdi’s case! Playful without over-stepping boundaries, Ferdi made the audience excited and we knew how to make him smile in return – my voice was husky I whooped and cheered so much. I can guarantee that the internal temperature of the room was much hotter when Ferdi was performing – even I started to sweat. If any show producers are reading this: please bring Ferdi Cobra’s Kiss back for an encore performance!!

 The fun of the night didn’t end post show, as The Royal High Jinx played some post show sets and the audience were invited to stay around to dance. This continued the fun atmosphere of the evening. A lovely way to end the show (versus having to hastily depart the venue). Some lucky audience members even got to dance with Ferdi (ladies, please form a line!) Do bring a nice outfit and your dancing shoes to this show.

VERDICT: If you’re ever looking for an escape on a budget – be enchanted and swept away in the beauty and movement of The Gipsy Club Cabaret! Highly recommended for a fun night out. Would not hesitate to return for a future night of entertainment.

*Disclaimer: I attended this performance as a guest of the producer

Further information:
Gipsy Club Cabaret Facebook Page

Where has Tay Around Town been?!

Hello readers! Yes, it has been over a month since my last post. I haven’t forgotten about you, there has just been a flurry of action in my daily life including (but not limited to):

  • Attending a friend’s wedding in late October – there was even magical entertainment at the wedding which was very exciting!
  • The usual Halloween celebrations – Halloween is my favourite holiday, so I like to celebrate it well (which naturally takes some effort)
  • A weekend in Adelaide for Supanova pop culture convention – more about that in a later blog post!
  • Currently looking for a house (the joys!)…which unsurprisingly takes up most of my weekends these days plus some extra admin time during the week. It’s a time consuming process…

I’m pleased to say that I have been out and about lately, so will have some new reviews for you all shortly – stay tuned!

Melbourne Fringe 2019 Review: “Game Boys Cinematic Universe”

Eden and Josh are the “Game Boys” and are your very friendly and enthusiastic hosts for their show “Game Boys Cinematic Universe”. The Game Boys do well to transform a small theatre within Trades Hall into a fun backstage ‘trolley ride’ via the Game Boys Studios Backlot Tour (reminiscent of the sorts of trolley rides at theme parks that I’m sure many tourists have done before) with some clever graphics and jokes included.

“Game Boys Cinematic Universe” is an action packed and very interactive show, and the Game Boys waste no time sharing knowledge of their favourite movies with their audience, mixed in with some fun games and activities. This show does feature some audience participation, but much of it was off stage and the Game Boys are ultra friendly and treat audience members very well. Personal highlights for me were the parody moments with prop comedy, some immersive play scenes and the clever movie parallels that were explored throughout the show. Another highlight was the Game Boys’ penchant for a certain big budget movie of the 90’s with iconic music which conjured some fantastic nostalgic moments for everyone in the audience. This show contained a lot of fun activities, with one of my favourites being a movie title game show – which made for some very clever and very entertaining moments!

“Game Boys Cinematic Universe” is a light hearted show that demonstrates a lot of depth by the time show ends, all of which is enhanced by Eden and Josh being genuine movie buffs and clearly holding much movie knowledge between them. The Game Boys take a clear delight in surprising their audience and for me, the surprises just kept coming throughout the entire show. I noticed that at the end of the show, much of audience was beaming and congratulating the Game Boys on such an enjoyable adventure (well deserved!) I’m sure even the most hardened movie critic would find this show irresistibly enjoyable.

VERDICT: Hold onto your hats, keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times and strap yourselves in for a very fun evening of fun theme park lines, movie puns and heavy doses of movie nostalgia! Game Boys Cinematic Universe runs deeper than quick movie one liners to create some sweet moments of movie magic for audience members and movie fans alike. Currently screening for a very limited time – don’t miss out!!

*Disclaimer: I attended this performance as a guest of the Game Boys.

Tickets / info: https://melbournefringe.com.au/event/game-boys-cinematic-universe/

Melbourne Fringe 2019 Review: “The Long Boy”

 Jon O  – one third of the ‘Bombastic JOE’ trio – has diverged this season to star in his own show “The Long Boy”. Nestled within the intimate venue ‘Crowded in the Vaults’ if you’ve never met Jon O, it will become immediately apparent why he’s known as “The Long Boy”. Comically tall with appropriately long arms and legs, Jon O uses plenty of physical comedy teamed with amusing scenarios and props to keep the laughs rolling for his audience.

Jon O opened his show with a thoroughly hilarious silent sequence. Honestly a great sign if you can have the audience calling for more a mere couple of minutes into the show! Throughout “The Long Boy” much of the comedy came from smooth observations of real life scenarios mixed with some wacky scenarios plus some fabulous dance breaks. Ever energetic, I pity the people that get stuck next to Jon O on the dancefloor because I’m convinced he can out-dance anyone! Another strength of the show is Jon O’s characterisations – he’s the man of a thousand faces, with many different expressions (and oh how we all laughed). As expected, a portion of the humour was aimed at Jon O’s tall and lanky nature too. The show is more than the typical flimsy sketches, with some call backs and recurring themes which helped to hold the attention of the audience.

Jon O “The Long Boy” is not short on laughs. It’s easy to get carried away during Jon O’s comic cavalcade of characters. I can recall some moments where the audience got swept away with the storylines within the show.

VERDICT: Jon O is larger than life on the stage and “The Long Boy” is large on laughs too. Highly enjoyable show and Jon O gave the audience what they wanted – laughs and plenty of them. If I had to provide a star rating for this show, it would be 3.5 stars out of 5

*Disclaimer: I attended the show as a guest of the producer

Tay Around Town gets ready to review shows during the 2019 Melbourne Fringe Festival!

‘Festival season’ in Melbourne never seems to end, which is fantastic as it means there are always new shows to see and adventures to be had.

I’m excited to announce that over the coming weeks I’ll be reviewing a small assortment of shows that are part of the 2019 Melbourne Fringe Festival. Melbourne Fringe has always been one of my favourite festivals as I feel it covers so many facets of what can be considered as art and entertainment. Comedy shows and cabaret shows are certainly in the line-up for reviewing this year, so I hope you’ll stay tuned for some reviews coming up shortly.

Thanks for reading! Tay

PS: if you’re looking to find out more about the Melbourne Fringe Festival, head to their website: https://melbournefringe.com.au/

 

Review: “How I Met My Dead Husband” performed by Lansy Feng

  I was delighted to be invited by Wit Incorporated to visit the lovely Bluestone Church Arts Space in Footscray for their production of “How I Met My Dead Husband” performed by Lansy Feng.  Before you ask – yes, it is possible to attend a production billed as a ‘cabaret funeral’ and have a great time (even some laughs) while still respecting other cultures and death / funerals. “How I Met My Dead Husband”manages to do all that and more which is testament to all the talent and efforts that have combined to make the show so worthwhile.

LF1Photo Credit: Jack Dixon-Gunn

Lansy Feng plays Chuen-Jiau, who is the focal point of the story alongside her dearly departed husband Yueh (who is regularly referred to and described but never physically seen). Chuen-Jiau is on a journey to find Yueh (who is hidden in space and time) and ultimately to find love. The entire show is performed in front of a funeral alter and Yueh’s coffin, however this does not distract from the performance. Chuen-Jiau’s story is one that spans multiple lives (via reincarnation), cultures and languages which makes this show all the more compelling. Much of the emotion in this story is conveyed via short songs, and I thoroughly enjoyed Lansy Feng’s beautiful singing. When the song words weren’t in Engligh, they were in Mandarin or French, however there was always such emotion in the melody and Lansy’s eyes that we could always tell what Lansy was singing about. I could see the joy and sparkle in Lansy’s eyes every time she sang above love. At other times, Lansy’s eyes were wistful and misty as she sang about loss and the sacrifices of love. Lansy looks demure however she sings emphatically as Chuen-Jiau!

lf4Photo Credit: Jack Dixon-Gunn

Clever theatrical methods helped to build the story over time – after all, lots of timespans and reincarnations could become confusing. Luckily, “How I Met My Dead Husband” ensures that the audience follows Chuen-Jiau closely on her journey (and her search for love and Yueh). The entire story is weaved together via vignettes of song (no lengthy boring ballads here), modern dialogue and some fun props / scenarios. I liked the poignant reminders of life (and the life beyond) in addition to the greater message regarding self love and the different ways love can be expressed. These greater messages were uplifting and made the show heartwarming. My heart felt so full at the conclusion of the show.

Another heartwarming aspect of this production is Wit Incorporated itself. Regularly referring to the crowd as ‘friends’ I’ve never felt so welcomed by / at an independent theatre (and one that is unfunded – quite a feat in itself in a world where costs are rising all the time). There were lots of friendly faces everywhere I turned so I truly can’t recommend Wit Incorporated and “How I Met My Dead Husband” enough.

VERDICT: A love story that transcends time and lives, woven via song and witty dialogue. “How I Met My Dead Husband” is a beautiful story despite its dark title. Look beyond the title, bring your imagination and be swept away by Chuen-Jiau’s captivating story. Her messages within will stay with you.

*Disclaimer: I attended this production as a guest of Wit Incorporated

Review: “Boeing, Boeing” performed by The Basin Theatre

 Living in Melbourne’s West, I relish the chance to get ‘around town’ and visit local theatre productions which are outside my local area. Recently, my partner and I visited The Basin Theatre – which is a sweet theatre set off a very tree lined road. The Basin Theatre itself is thoroughly charming, with warm welcomes and plenty of sofa seating in the foyer to enjoy pre show and at interval. Better yet, tickets include pre and post show (and interval) refreshments which was a nice touch. There’s also the opportunity to meet cast members in the foyer post show so if you visit, do ensure you stick around for that!

The production for the current season is French playright Marco Camoletti’s comical farce “Boeing Boeing”, which is set in the 1960’s. Best of all, this is a ‘door play’ (one of my favourite kinds of theatrical setups), with all kinds of characters making appearances (and reappearances) via the doors throughout the show. The superb cast of characters is comprised of Bernard (played by Gordon Boyd) – who is a bachelor and the central character in the story, Bernard’s enthusiastic French friend Robert (played by Bruce Hardie), Bernard’s sassy housekeeper Bertha (played by Cate Dowling-Trask) and of course, Bernard’s three love interests – the air hostesses. Gretchen (played by Charlie Jean) is a ‘no nonsense’ dominant German, Gabriella (played by Nataleigh Maree) is a ‘classic’ Italian -complete with many hand gestures – and Gloria (played by Peta Owen) is an affable American. The synopsis of the show is fairly simple, in that Bernard juggles all his love interests via their flight schedules, ensuring that none overlap when they each land in Paris to spend time with their special Bernard. None are aware of each other’s existence, until Bernard’s plan slowly starts to unravel with storms, flight cancellations and the introduction of faster jumbo jets.

This show is very entertaining via its dialogue and comedic timing – everyone seems to have witty one liners that are on point (and there are even a few sneaky double entendres that made me laugh even harder!) Ripples of audience laughter were a constant throughout the show. Keep an eye out for Gretchen (played by Charlie Jean) in particular who is very enthusiastic and comical in her role, and helps to keep the laughs soaring in the show with her movements and facial expressions. Gretchen has a dazzling smile and just radiates love and happiness throughout her scenes and to the audience. She was a joy to watch and simply shone! Another personal highlight was Frenchman Robert (played by Bruce Hardie) who had an accent that never wavered and was often literally caught between characters in some hilarious scenarios. It was very entertaining to see Bernard (played by Gordon Boyd) sweat when he realised there were flaws in his plan and he had to work even harder to keep his plan ‘in the air’ (so to speak) – especially when his air hostess lovers each had their own opinions and weren’t afraid to voice them. I felt like it was a trip to another time as the same plan / concept just wouldn’t work in 2019 with the nature of the airline industry and aviation technology. The set dressing and music playing before the show all helped to transport the audience back to the 1960’s (in addition to the cast outfits!)

This production runs for approx 2 hours (plus interval) however time does indeed fly when you’re having fun and we just wanted to stay longer as the show was a fun, lighthearted night out. Thoroughly enjoyable.

 VERDICT: Fasten your seatbelts and stow away your troubles for an entertaining journey with engaging characters, featuring plenty of comedic highs. They say “If it ain’t Boeing I’m not going” so make “Boeing, Boeing” your next destination for comedy!

Interview with Lansy Feng, star of Wit Incorporated’s production of “How I Met My Dead Husband”

Wit Incorporated is an award-winning, artist-led theatre company based in Melbourne’s West. Having attended (and thoroughly enjoyed!) a previous production – ‘Ophelia Thinks Harder’ – I’m excited to attend opening night of their next hotly anticipated show “How I Met My Dead Husband” starring Lansy Feng.

LF3Photo credit: Jack Dixon-Gunn

I’m even more excited to share with you all an interview with Lansy Feng, which will hopefully pique your interest about this new show and provide a glimpse into some of the thoughts and preparation behind it all. Thank you to Lansy Feng and the Wit Incorporated team for taking the time to answer my questions.

LF111fy7jegPhoto credit: Jack Dixon-Gunn

1. Describe “How I Met My Dead Husband” in 3 words

heartfelt, magical, surprising

 
2. What has influenced your performance in this production (ie any cultural and personal elements you wish to share with readers)?

I grew up in a conservative small town in Taiwan with strict parents. I’ve learnt obedience, living in the way that the society wants you to, and behaving like a good girl from school from my parents and from judgmental people. I fought battles and battles with my parents years for what I wanted and who I wanted to be. Won some, lost some. But in every battle, I learnt something and they did too. It took time for them to accept all the new stuff but they listened. They are the best parents ever. The third year of my uni as an exchange student studying in the USA has broaden my horizons a lot. I was even more sure I should follow my heart and my dreams.

Having this background helped me to relate to Chuen-Jiau’s story. Even though her time in Taiwan is more than 200 years before now, cultural background is still quite similar.  She is like me, hard-headed, strong, and fought for her dreams.

Also, Belinda the director has given me a great support throughout all the rehearsals helped me to discover more in this character. She is amazing!

3. “How I Met My Dead Husband” raises some serious topics (death, funerals etc) – how do you ensure things don’t get too confronting for your audiences?

The story is a woman on her dead husband’s funeral using a humorous, modern way to tell the people her tragic lives. She has been through A LOT! And she survived and still living with hope and laughter. It’s encouraging and loving. We also treat the funeral altar in a respectful way to ensure the humor doesn’t come from silliness.

4. How has this production changed you?

I’ve learnt so much from this production, I’ve learnt more about my own culture. I’ve learnt to work with a whole team taking on people’s great ideas. I’ve learnt that I’m extremely lucky to work with a beautiful team of people who helped to make this production come to live. I’ve also learnt that when there’s a deadline for your dream to come true, you are capable to write a new song in one afternoon to replace the one you are not allowed to use.

5. Without giving too much away, what can audiences expect from “How I Met My Dead Husband”?

Have you seen Aladdin and Jasmine on the magic carpet exploring their world singing a whole new world? Yeah, it’s not that.

It’s more like, Chuen-Jiau will take you on her magical carpet to a surprising, emotional, dramatic and cultural adventure with a pair of funny goggles.
…And she will sing 8 other songs and sometimes shows off her bad French!

LF2Photo credit: Jack Dixon-Gunn

“How I Met My Dead Husband” runs from at
concluding at at:
Bluestone Church Arts Space 8A Hyde Street Footscray, VIC, 3011

Review: “A Midnight Visit”

On an appropriately gloomy and rain swept Winter’s night, I made my way to a warehouse building in North Melbourne to partake in “A Midnight Visit” staged by Broad Encounters. Billed as a ‘5 star immersive theatre experience’, “A Midnight Visit” is a maze of different rooms containing different experiences and themes, largely based on the works of Edgar Allen Poe. Despite not being familiar with all of Poe’s work, I do like the macabre / fantasy / horror genre, so I was very excited (and a bit nervous) to enter what I took to be like a ‘spook house / haunted house’ experience for adults.

There was so much I enjoyed about this experience! It pains me not to write too much as I don’t want to give too much away (despite ‘the experience’ changing regularly). I feel like in my hour and a half I was able to discover and visit many different rooms with different ‘feels’. Some rooms were spooky and macabre; others made me giggle and take in all the textures and surroundings. There was even a room with a ball pit , which I took particular delight in! There are rooms that you wish to linger in (the ball pit!) and other rooms where you almost feel like you shouldn’t be there, lest you see too much beyond the mortal veil. I’m sure some rooms are designed to push the ‘comfort level’ limits of visitors. Once you’re past the ‘receiving room’, the entire experience is like a ‘choose your own adventure’ story. There’s no set path to follow, just lots of curious spaces to discover and even more curious characters to meet – and what performances we were treated to! Seems everyone in the building is a great storyteller and the characters engage the audience so well. A quote from Poe is very apt here: “All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.” and this experience is quite dreamlike. Mentally I forgot I was in Melbourne entirely. Once I understood the flow of the evening, my nerves melted away and each new room I explored was done out of excitement more than hesitation, peeling back the curtain and peeking into different realms and seemingly worlds encased solely in rooms.

The entire experience itself is well staffed, managed and organised. From the moment you step through the threshold from the outside world into this otherworldly experience, you are in safe hands and there is guidance should you need it. This isn’t the kind of experience / ‘spook house’ where there are jump scares and characters are literally out to harshly grab / swipe at you. It’s a more thoughtful experience where you can choose how interactive you wish to be. All elements of the experience are combined beautifully and I wish I could have stayed longer – I was reluctant to leave when our timeslot ended, I wanted to remain the dreamlike world for an extended period of time.

It was a completely fascinating and entertaining evening and an exciting voyage into another world. Given that I visited almost a week ago and it has been on my mind regularly since then is testament to my enjoyment of the experience. In my opinion, the ticket price is well worth it for such a well run, enjoyable experience. “A Midnight Visit” travels and will be leaving Melbourne soon, so best to get tickets promptly for this one. Oh, and for those curious – no, the visit to this experience did not actually occur at midnight!

VERDICT: Best suited to adults (18+) due to themes and content, a fantastic escape from the ordinary and ‘day to day’ world. Mysterious, curious and exciting I was hesitant to leave and just wanted to keep exploring. Well worth a visit if you’re a Poe / literary fan or not.

Tickets / more information: https://amidnightvisit.com/

MMF 2019: BONUS LIST of shows that made me cry with laughter!

Well, the 2019 Melbourne Magic Festival was an incredible ride that including many surprising moments and of course much laughter and enjoyment. In fact, one of the outcomes of my time at the festival is that I realised I laughed every single day that I was there (as opposed to my usual life where I obviously do not laugh enough some days)!

In light of that, I present to you a NEW LISTING for 2019: a list of the 3 shows during the Melbourne Magic Festival that made me cry with laughter. Yes, I am easily entertained but not every show makes me cry with laughter…I have sacrificed eye makeup and my clothing sleeves a few times to wipe away my tears as I try to regain my composure. It feels good to laugh so much, so I hope you enjoy this new list!

“MagicSports” performed by teams of magicians
A show like TheatreSports….except everything is magical. The segment / game titled “Make a trick” usually has me laughing way too much but this year, there were another two games that also had me crying with laughter: “style rollercoaster” featuring hilarious interpretive dance and “arms expert” with wild gestures and movements. “Balloonatics” was a new game which also made me laugh a lot too. I laughed so much during this show that I very nearly wet myself so I guess take that as a warning: YOU WILL LAUGH LOTS during this show!! Hot tip: Take minimal caffeine and use the bathroom before the show.

“The Great Kaplan” performed by David Kaplan
The opening sequence in his show slayed me! Whilst he was moving on with the rest of his performance it took a while for me to regain my composure after the hilarious sequence of events that opened his show. The ‘happy crying face emoji’ is apt here…David Kaplan’s show was loaded with comedy – much more comedy than I expected. I still smile when I think of his show.

“Friends of Friends” performed by various ‘friends’ of magicians
A new and quite thrilling show for 2019. I love character magic, so this show already had a strong appeal however I had no idea of exactly what was in store. The ‘Friends’ that appeared during the show just kept getting funnier and funnier as the night went along….standout hilarity goes to “Nostradamicus” with his Russian roulette style soda routine; “Demona” who slayed me with her witty one liners and hilarious sword fight routine; and “Barry Rumpey” with his psychic surgery on an audience volunteer who prompted much of the comedy…this show was wild and I loved every minute. I hope it returns in future!