Cabaret Festival

Cabaret Festival Review: Dry My Tears

Biting comedy and excellent stage presence to accompany songs covering many eras of Cabaret

Biting comedy and excellent stage presence to accompany songs covering many eras of Cabaret
3.5

Presented by: The Song Company & Adelaide Cabaret Festival
Reviewed: 23 June, 2023

Paul Capsis is touted as one of Australia’s most versatile performers, for which he was awarded the 2021 Adelaide Cabaret Festival Icon Award. Back for one performance only in the 2023 Cabaret Festival, Capsis left his characters and costumes behind to treat Adelaide audiences to a stripped back, acoustic show accompanied on the grand piano by Francis Greep.

Entering the stage in an understated black velvet suit, lifted by an overstated yellow sequined shirt and top hat with a magnificent yellow feather, Capsis kicked off the evening with a tribute to 1930s Berlin. Performing Mack the Knife by Ella Fitzgerald and other songs of the era with equally dark themes, Capsis set the tone in line with the show’s title.

What followed was a pervading air of imminent breakdown and tragedy that, thankfully, was alleviated somewhat by his biting wit between sets. Capsis warned one and all that there would be ‘no trigger warnings’ in the show, recanted a welcome to ‘ladies and gentlemen’ replacing it with more current trends of pronouns and categorisations and advised that, just like life, there would be no refunds to his show. Truly hilarious, Capsis’ greatest strength is his performance personality and onstage presence, at times using an oversized fan to create wind effects for his long, wavy hair.

The second half of the show moved to lighter ballads, ragtime songs and jazz. Capsis performed songs by Elton John, Richard Rogers and Billy Joel. He perhaps didn’t do himself any favours by tackling songs by some of the world’s greatest vocalists as Capsis’ voice does not compare and the distinction was noticeable. With some additional backing to fill out his voice, it likely would have been better but accompaniment by a mere solo piano added to the flattish overall effect.

Capsis also tackled several songs in French, interacted with the audience about a survivor-style show for Cabaret performers and was generally brilliant at being a comedian. The whole show teetered between black humour and the tears of a clown, which was excellently done. For this reason, I’d recommend the show but for those who go to the Cabaret solely for astounding vocals and musical performance, you’d likely be disappointed.

Reviewed by Samantha Bond

Photo credit: Claudio Raschella

Venue: The Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre
Season: Ended
Duration: 60 mins

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