Cabaret Festival

Cabaret Festival Review: Bumbling

Bumbling is both a socially awkward dramedy and a choose your own adventure for the millennial single

Bumbling is both a socially awkward dramedy and a choose your own adventure for the millennial single

Presented by: inSPACE and Adelaide Cabaret Festival
Reviewed: 8 June, 2024

It is quite fitting that Bumbling should premiere as a “work in progress,” because its heroine is one too. As patrons wander into the Quartet Bar and chatter amongst the tables, Adelaide performer Isobel Marmion dances by herself on the stage. Her demeanor is both confident and socially awkward, as she occasionally notices the audience watching. Her movements are reminiscent of dancing in front of the bedroom mirror, boosting self confidence before a night out.

Bumbling is a mixture of stand-up comedy, choose your own adventure, and real life dating disasters, the last of which are highly relatable to the millennial audience. As part of her opening monologue, Marmion shares how she rebounded from a fizzled-out romance by researching bee keeping. As with everything in the show, Marmion takes us on the journey with her. So we should add natural facts to the list of genres she juggles. 

Marmion narrates a comical night out with the girls, crawling from one location to another down Rundle Street. She relies on the crowd to help make certain decisions, such as her hairstyle, topics of conversation, and the first bar she visits. With each destination her mood inevitably drops, just like her inhibitions. We laugh along with Marmion, while feeling genuine concern, if not for her character then for our friends (or ourselves) who go through the same motions. 

The sound tech admonishes Marmion for interrupting the show to text with her current crush. As a compromise, Marmion entrusts several audience members to watch her phone and help her reply to the beau. This adds another layer of audience participation and improvisation to the show, meaning each performance will be unique. 

As it stands, Bumbling ends with a bittersweet monologue at the third bar. However, there is likely to be more as the show develops. There is a QandA session with Marmion (Lead Artist & Writer), Caitlin Ellen Moore (Lead Artist), and Kidaan Zelleke (Lead Artist & Director) after the show. This offers a unique glimpse into the creative process. They explain that Bumbling took great inspiration from a shared Google Document, where the three artists recorded their thoughts and “weird dating stories.”

If you did not stay for the QandA, you could be forgiven for assuming the “work in progress” marketing was playing into an intentionally raw and improvised vibe. Bumbling is both sincere and funny. It will be interesting to watch these artists finalise the show.

Reviewed by Nicola Woolford

Photo credit: Claudio Raschella

Venue: Quartet Bar, Adelaide Festival Centre
Season: ended

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