Reviewed 18 June 2015
Phil Scott is a showbiz survivor. Appearing in numerous TV and theatre productions as well as writing books, his multi-talented skills have been put to good use. The comedic way he spins a tale has been unique with an eyebrow always arched in readiness of a witty quip. His forte for musical comedy is also used well with his tribute to British song-writer Lionel Bart.
Famed for creating pop songs such as Living Doll and the enduringly popular stage musical Oliver!, Bart’s career reached dizzy heights. Sadly the weight of fame and the allure of drugs and alcohol stopped short his creative momentum. Whilst he continued working through his personal stupor, Bart would never again grasp fame’s golden chalice. But his contribution has never been forgotten with the likes of Andrew Lloyd Webber using the Bart template for commercially lavish musicals to lucrative effect.
Performing as Bart, Scott delivers a stirring ode to a musical hero. Walking onto the stage with a cocky swagger, Bart regaled his audience with personal and celebrity tales and engaging music. The genius of Scott’s use of biography and tunes was evident as both perfectly intermingled. From word to song, you received a sense of the desperation, joy, sadness and creativity which drove Bart.
At times coming across as a somewhat pathetic creature consistently longing for the glory days of his past, Bart’s talents nonetheless outshone any personal imperfections. The way Bart/Scott tells his story ensured proceedings never became maudlin as Reviewing the Situation became a celebration of an important artist.
Staged with a simple set consisting of good lighting, a piano and lounge-room props, the intimacy immediately drew you into the story. Scott’s piano playing was deftly handled with a bedazzling flair almost making him the Liberace of cabaret. His use of humour within the context of Bart’s stormy life was executed with aplomb as was Scott’s ability in interacting with his audience. You almost felt like an interloper into Bart’s life, such was Scott’s engaging style. Who could also resist hearing some classic Bart tracks such as Consider Yourself and the theme from the James Bond film, From Russia With Love? All were lovingly recreated with Scott’s vocals bouncing off the walls in a sensorial wave of nostalgia.
Reviewing the Situation was a fun, interesting and arresting exploration of the life of a talented person. Unafraid in showing Bart’s foibles, Scott’s commitment in providing a high quality show was evident with his legendary showmanship mirroring the skills of his subject.
Reviewed by: Patrick Moore
Rating out of 5: 5
Season: 18 – 20 June 2015
Duration: 1hr, 10 mins.
Tickets: Premium $34.90: Adult $29.90, Concession $24.90
Bookings: Book online through www.adelaidecabaretfestival.com.au or phone BASS on 131 246