Cabaret Festival Review: Meow Meow’s Pandemonium

There’s rarely a dull moment when Meow Meow is around, from spontaneous yells in German at terrified audience members to slick and sweet-as-honey vocals


Presented by Adelaide Festival Centre
Reviewed 18 June 2022

From the low-lit opium dens of Shanghai and the smoky backrooms of Berlin, to the bright lights of the City of Churches, the sassy, confident and ever-so-talented international cabaret sensation Meow Meow is seducing Adelaide, while accompanied by our very own Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

Cabaret Icon Award Winner, Meow Meow has premiered her glamorous, dramatic and comical new show in Adelaide at the flashy new Her Majesty’s Theatre (despite its lack of fancy trapeze and rotating stage, luxuries that Meow Meow is accustomed to in her fabulous globe-trotting career). Meow Meow’s presence is delectable, sultry and fierce, and she is clearly a bossy, trouble-making and narcissistic hybrid of Edina and Patsy from Ab Fab, especially when sentences like, “look at me when I’m yelling at you!” leave her mouth with such purpose.

The show is aptly named a ‘pandemonium’, with Meow Meow gleefully causing wild and noisy disorder and confusion, especially when interacting with audience members (which she seems very fond of doing). From yelling sporadically at them in German to get their attention and utilising them as human chairs on stage as they’re dressed in large trash bags, to boldly trusting the (slightly older in age) audience in semi-glamorous and fully dangerous crowd-surfing. While others like Marilyn Maye and Liza Minelli may be competing for the role of Queen of Cabaret, Meow Meow is definitely the fabulous, cigarette-sucking, bouffant-style haired, sassy Aunt of Cabaret – the one you know you’ll always get into some trouble with.

The show provides a mixed bag of both classic cabaret hits in English, French, German, Spanish and even some Mandarin, including upbeat Astor Piazzolla tango tunes, a little bit of  Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini, upbeat songs from Edith Piaf and Surabaya Johnny – a classic piece from Berliner Kabaret by Bertold Brecht. These numbers transport you back in time to various spaces around the world, but most powerful is Berlin post World War I with its creation of the Weimar cabaret known for its colour, freedom and decadence in a society where various types of freedom were being explored.

Alongside these are her own original songs created in collaboration with Australian composer and music director, Iain Grandage, and the beloved Thomas M Lauderdale of Portland-based band, Pink Martini. These songs tend to be a bit slower, with themes including the end of the world and the disappearance of love with melodic harps being plucked in the background. Within these moments, Meow Meow becomes a touch more vulnerable, while her vocals and presence still command the audience’s attention.

Behind the centre of attention (Meow Meow) is the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra – a sea of black and white suits, coat-tails and dresses, alongside polished brass and shiny wooden instruments. Meow Meow’s silky and sweet-as-honey vocals receive a powerful backing in the talent of our state’s orchestra, and it’s also fun to see them have a bit of comedy in their night when interacting with the show’s star.

There’s rarely a dull moment when Meow Meow is around, from spontaneous yells in German at terrified audience members to slick and sweet-as-honey vocals, and a bit of everything in-between – Meow Meow will keep you entertained whether you like it or not!

Reviewed by Georgina Smerd

Season Ended – One Night Only

Rating out of 5: 4.5

Photo Credit: Claudio Raschella

#Adelaide #CabaretFest #AdlCabaretFestival

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