Presented by Adelaide Cabaret Festival
Reviewed June 13 2019
Tina del Twist is played by Australian singer/actor/writer/comedian/producer and director Wes Snelling. She is Wes’s bohemian Auntie – the family misfit, never quite fitting in. With a good serve of red wine, in a brandy balloon big enough to bath a baby in, Tina stumbles on stage to begin what she thinks is her Christmas concert. When she has wet her whistle, several times, we are treated to a medley of seasonal songs in Tina’s luscious voice then she suddenly announces she hates Christmas!
Her splendid singing is accompanied by the fabulous talents of the Letter String Quartet who not only play brilliantly and compose music for the group but can also sing in perfect harmony. The members of the quartet are Steph O’Hara – violin, Lizzy Welsh – violin, Zoë Barry – cello and Biddy Connor – viola and saw.
From the brief blurb in the Cab Fest program, I really didn’t know what to expect but the unusual combination of a seemingly sozzled, past her best cabaret singer and a string quartet works incredibly well. Snelling plays Tina to perfection as she tugs on our heart strings while we hear about all those supposedly special and precious family gatherings where she only feels shut out – such as at the wedding when she finds no place card with her name and no place set for her as they only invited her to get a free singer. No wonder she convinces herself that she really dislikes other people and would rather be alone.
The songs ranged from standards such as At Last, belted out in a classical jazz interpretation to The Crowd from theCat Empire, which I loved and much prefer to the original, a great rendition of The Long Way Around from the Dixie Chicks plus David Guetta’s Titanium. All the songs served to symbolise and emphasise the pathos and outsider status of Aunt Tina who continued to drown her sorrows throughout the performance.
After the finale, she suddenly burst into Happy Birthday and asked if it was actually anyone’s birthday. I called out that yesterday had been my birthday and I had the great thrill of Tina del Twist, and the audience, singing happy birthday to me. A great end to a great show.
Reviewed by Jan Kershaw
Rating out of 5: 5
Venue: Space Theatre
Season: 13, 14 June 9.15pm
Duration: 1hr 10mins
Tickets: $44.90, Conc $34.90