Presented by Adelaide Festival Centre
Reviewed 9 June 2019
Directed by Steven Gates (Tripod), Suburban Gothic boasts three cabaret singers and an impressive band complete with cello, drums, and baby grand piano. The Blue Room set-up of small, intimate tables was the perfect arrangement to ‘enjoy’ this pitch-black offering. And I say ‘enjoy’ because Suburban Gothic really does test the boundaries of political correctness and satire.
Commencing with hooded figures holding torches under their chins for that super-eerie, gothic effect, the opening number warned that there was some “spooky shit going down”. The show then proceeded through an ever-increasing series of ‘horrors’ starting with a young couple getting permanently stuck in suburbia. This provided the platform to explore those everyday problems that normal folk just getting on with their lives in suburbia face.
Topics covered included age discrimination and hard rubbish (businesses want the young, cheap labour over older, experienced and more costly employees), racism featuring a particularly black comedic wedding speech, date rape, domestic violence and the general vulnerability of women going about their everyday lives (a song featuring the chorus “he hits her just a bit”), parenting in the social media age, and your garden-variety murders.
This is an astoundingly astute commentary on all those problems that average people face in the year 2019. It is satire to the extreme which makes poignant points while also being extremely funny and just plain wrong. The mixture of upbeat melodies, soulful ballads, spoken word and even scatting all blend to provide a most enjoyable musical experience. But at the same time as the music and excellent voices of the cast entertained, the subject matter disallowed total audience comfort with the show.
If you like your cabaret to challenge and inspire new ideas, rather than just entertain or provide an enjoyable music experience, then this is the show for you. Conversely, if you’re uncomfortable with satire and touchy subjects, you’re better off spending your arts dollars elsewhere. It was safe to say that Sunday’s audience was well onboard with the show’s contents, and responded enthusiastically to this witty and blackly beautiful cabaret offering.
Reviewed by Samantha Bond
Rating out of 5: 4
Venue: Festival Centre, The Blue Room
Season: 9-10 June 2019
Duration: 1 hour 15 mins
Tickets: $36.90 – $46.90