Cabaret Fringe

Cabaret Fringe Festival Review: The Catchelorette

Cleverly funny & provocative

4

Presented by Cabaret Fringe Festival
Reviewed 5th June, 2021

Carla Anita Mattiazzo calls this show a cabaret. The trappings of cabaret are certainly present: a vibrant one-woman presentation with piano accompaniment. However, if you overlook her blindingly-sequinned black jumpsuit – not an easy task – and a headdress which could be either tiara or halo, Ms Mattiazzo is doing a lot more here than her title implies. Catchelorette, a reminder of laughingly so-called ‘reality’ television shows about dating, appraising and acquiring a consort, might make prospective audience members think that this will be a hoot of a show for a bunch of thirty-something straight cisgender women ready to deride the vagaries of prospective blokes. And yes, it works for that lot. But Mattiazzo’s show is a lot more thoughtful than this.

There’s more speaking than singing in this show – and that’s not a criticism. Mattiazzo has the gift of a story-teller, and her spoken material is intelligent, incisive social satire, deftly aimed at today’s singles who wish they weren’t.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Mattiazzo’s undergraduate degree is in education. She enunciates six specific “catches” which are obstacles in the path of a woman seeking a male consort of quality. She tells amusing stories about each “catch”, recapitulates the headings half-way through, and, like every fine teacher, gives us a quick revision of all six headings at the end. Perfect pedagogy. Each story segment is focussed, funny and memorable. Even better, her sharp social observations allow her audience to identify at a number of levels.

Her singing is, however, another matter. Mattiazzo is blessed with a robust, clear speaking voice, which also works loudly in her mid-upper range. Both strength and pitch accuracy suffer when she sings quietly, slowly and in her lower range. She is ill-advised to begin her show with a gently moody version of Merrill & Rubicam’s How Will I Know?, made popular by Whitney Houston. Although the lyrics are perfect for her purposes, Mattiazzo’s pitch wavers throughout. Sara Bareilles’s Gravity suffers a similar fate. The best singing happens in Too Much (by Carly Rae Jepsen); its faster pace and higher range suits Mattiazzo’s voice well.

A word about Mattiazzo’s accompanist, acknowledged at the end of the show as ‘Ciara’. No surname given. Research suggests that she may be Ciara Ferguson. Remember her name if you ever need a skilled, empathetic pianist to accompany you. Despite her singer’s wildly varying tempi and dynamic levels, Ciara consistently supported and enhanced every musical moment of the show.

Overall, this is a brightly entertaining romp for thinking women and enlightened men. Its strength is its sharp social satire.

Reviewed by Pat. H. Wilson

Rating out of 5:  4 stars.

Season ended

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