Review: “Cardinal Sins” performed by Frank Hampster

IMPORTANT NOTE: The show I reviewed focused on sensitive subject matter- the sexual abuse of young boys by members of the Catholic Church. Consider this a trigger warning – if you’re sensitive to this topic, DO NOT READ ON. LEAVE NOW!

It was a dark night that I attended this satirical show, as dark as the subject matter itself that Frank Hampster was about to delve into. An intimate, but interested group of people had gathered to watch and listen to Frank Hampster’s accounts of growing up in Ballarat in the 70’s and 80’s. For those unaware, Ballarat is a region of Victoria with a notorious history of hosting many members of the Catholic Church who have sexually abused children. Frank was dressed in black and took to the stage, eyeing his audience with some mild suspicion. I stood out in the audience, with my pen and paper (for reviewing) and Frank asked who I was writing for  – concerned that I was attending on behalf of some lawyers (or perhaps that I was a lawyer myself?). Oh, how that made me laugh!

After some reassuring from the audience (and host), Frank went on to speak about some colourful stories of his time on day trips with priests, and some theories on why he believed priests (and other members of the church hierarchy) ‘got to be that way’. Frank mentioned that priests (and the church itself) are all about patriarchy, power and maintaining power, and this was a theme that coursed through all the contents of the evening. A quote I particularly liked was when Frank likened church abuse deniers to climate change deniers. Quite poignant in these times.

Throughout the evening, Frank was Frank by name, frank by nature which was refreshing given the subject matter. Due to ongoing court cases and events, Frank couldn’t name all the priests and divulge all the details he wanted to and reverted to pseudonyms for some of the stories and anecdotes. Nevertheless, this did not detract from a compelling evening. There wasn’t a dull moment between Frank pacing about the stage staring down audience members, to him singing a song based on the responses of priests’ to allegations in court (which was well put together).

The ending of the show held a few surprises, and the audience was treated to a Q and A session with Frank after the show which I think was a great way for people to find out more. For those who are asking why a person would make light of this (especially as an abuse survivor), Frank mentions “you gotta make people laugh, or they’ll line up and kill you”.

VERDICT: This show was eye opening, and confronting at times but some of the best shows are. Highlighting this subject matter and having an abuse survivor speak about it is the opposite to the past actions people have heard about – the covering up of documents and destroying of evidence by the Church. Sure, this show isn’t for everyone (hence my ‘trigger warning’) however for me it was a glimpse into another world and a reminder for me to be grateful for my own life and experiences within it.

Tickets: Next show is on Thursday September 15th at Speakeasy HQ. See more details at

Disclaimer: I attended this event as a guest of Speakeasy HQ.

Review: MSFW fashion show “Urban Bloom”

On a mild evening after work I was invited to the Melbourne Town Hall to experience a show of ‘ready to wear’ fashions as part of Melbourne Spring Fashion Week (MSFW).  MSFW is truly an institution in Melbourne and helps to ensure the city shakes off a gloomy winter and prepares for a mild, colourful spring. I met a lovely group of ladies outside the Town Hall and we ascended the blue carpeted staircase, under an arch of beautiful fresh flowers and made our way to the VIP bar. I felt very special being in the VIP bar as we were in a very plush room, adorned with paintings of some of the previous Lord Mayors of Melbourne. I thoroughly enjoyed sipping on Campari and Tonic, some champagne and partaking in canapes while discussing all things spring, events, foodie destinations in the city and travel with my new friends. The VIP room quickly filled with fashion aficionados, sponsors and some special guests.

 After sharing plenty of laughs and stories, we all tottered down to the fashion runway area (not without quickly grabbing another glass of champagne on the way). I did feel very privileged to be in 4th row away from the runway – such a good spot for people  / model / fashion watching! Clutching our goodie bags (and champagne!) we all settled in for an exciting show. The runway itself was styled with large pastel paper flowers which I admired, as I make the same sort of flowers in my craft room (albeit on a much smaller scale).

 I was pleased that this runway show featured ‘ready to wear’ pieces, meaning that if I really liked a piece I could go out and find it at a store such as David Jones, or another well known store that carried the particular designer’s label / pieces. Over the evening we saw sweet, flowing and stylish outfits by designers and labels Kate Sylvester, Megan Park, Yeojin Bae, Alice McCall, Nevenka, Uma Wang By Cose Ipanema, Akira, and Romance Was Born at David Jones. Each label and designer had a different flair and emphasis for their set of outfits, with the models strutting to different pieces of music.

My favourite pieces included lacy dresses with frilly sleeves and ornate collars, some of which looked like they were right out of ‘Alice in Wonderland’; the use of large kimono like sashes on outfits by Akira; and a very ornate sequin and beaded jacket on one of the models. I’m sure you can spot that in my photos as that jacket was a real show stopper! Accessories differed wildly – I enjoyed the flat boater hats seen on many models, and one designer even matched their models with pieces of Australian flora (gum leaves and wattle sprigs).

 At the end of the show, all the models walked out in pairs (Noah’s Ark style!) and appeared on the runway, before walking single file right in front of the first row of seating, until they disappeared backstage again. This was a nice way to end a show, as I’ve never seen models walk off-catwalk / runway before, and this also granted us a closer glimpse of our favourite pieces. It was such an enjoyable night and I’m very grateful that I was granted the opportunity to attend the delights of the evening.

 Disclaimer: I attended this event as a guest of the InterContinental Hotel, Melbourne.

Cake tasting adventure: ‘Frankenzumbo’ cake by Zumbo Patisserie

In Australia, there is a TV program airing nationally, called “Zumbo’s Just Desserts”. This program features acclaimed baker of delicious sweets, Adriano Zumbo, and a group of aspiring bakers / pastry chefs etc that must emulate his creations and take part in challenges.

Zumbo has his own patisseries in Melbourne and Sydney, and to coincide with the TV show there have been some special releases of some of the cakes and desserts shown. Recently, I was lucky enough to purchase the rare “Frankenzumbo” cake. This cake was only available for 3 days, and I had to repetitively visit the bakery one morning to ensure I could have a mini “Frankenzumbo” cake of my own! The concept of the “Frankenzumbo” cake is similar to that of the savoury ‘ Turducken’ (a chicken stuffed inside a duck, which is then stuffed inside a Turkey)…but in a sweet cake form. The “Frankenzumbo” cake was a mini donut, sitting atop a lemon tart which was above a chocolate brownie, all encased in meringue with a mini pavlova topping!!!

I must admit that I marvelled at how this creation was constructed. As I sliced the cake in half to reveal all the glorious layers, I was impressed how everything was held together in a delicate meringue shell. I did share a portion of this cake with a work colleague, but then the rest of the cake became unstable so I promptly devoured the remainder. Each layer tasted as it should – the chocolate brownie was rich, the lemon tart had a tang, the pavlova layer was sublime- however the doughnut layer was the weakest (taste wise). It did taste like a donut, but the texture and placement didn’t match the rest of cake. I would have preferred a ‘wagon wheel’ type layer with jam and marshmallow…or even an ‘iced vovo’ inspired layer.

Even though the cake was small(ish) once my belly was full of cake, it felt like I had eaten 4 cakes in one. I was full for the entire morning and only had a small lunch that day. It was the highlight of my day. Fifteen minutes after purchase, the layered cake was out of my life, as quickly as it had entered.

Over a week later, and I’m still telling all manner of friends and people about this cake. I wish more people had the chance to experience and enjoy it.