Cabaret Festival

Cabaret Festival Review: It’s A Sin: Songs Of Love And Shame

Michael Griffiths takes a funny, yet vulnerable look at his past

Michael Griffiths takes a funny, yet vulnerable look at his past

Presented by: Adelaide Cabaret Festival
Reviewed: 10 June, 2023

Michael Griffiths is one of Adelaide’s creative talents that left our little town for bigger and brighter things, but always returns home to share in his successes. He grew up in Vale Park, coming of age through the late 80s into the early 90s where being gay was not only rarely advertised, but also a realisation amid the spectre of the AIDs epidemic and the extreme vilification of LGBTQ+ people in media and society (when it was still illegal in some states and territories). Not a light topic for a cabaret show, but in Griffiths’ own telling, “comedy comes from trauma with timing”.

Packed with Pet Shop Boys hits, the set list will remind any Xennial or older of just how great this band was, and the lyricism that they were perhaps not always remembered for – although lead singer Neil Tennant’s story of coming out is particularly relevant. The bittersweet arrangement of Go West and the almost joyful tongue-in-cheek playfulness of ‘Suburbia’ were highlights.

Each song for this show is arranged with a beautiful melancholy and a connection to the story being told. Griffiths is an accomplished singer, but also a very adept pianist and is supported by a fabulous duo of strings; Dylan Paul on double bass, and Julian Ferraretto on violin. The richness and depth given to this performance by these two musicians is worth the ticket alone, and has all the hallmarks of a slick Cabaret Festival production.

Griffiths himself is personable and brings a vulnerability to his storytelling amongst the humour that hooks the audience in. From tales of coming out to finding his ‘people’ at music school, to achieving some peace in his middle age that seems grounded, there is very little about which to find shame, and plenty to love.

This world premiere directed by Dean Bryant tugs at the heart strings and reminds everyone of just how far we have come and what we can learn from the past. Don’t skip the encore for a real moment of sentimentality that will choke up anyone with an ounce of romanticism.

Reviewed by Hayley Horton

Photo credit: Claudio Raschella

Venue: The Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre
Season: Ended
Duration: 70 minutes

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