Presented by Faff and Sass Productions
Reviewed 6 March 2018
Peter Allen has always had a special place in Australia’s heart. The small-town country boy who took the world by storm with his stylish brand of cabaret, Allen was a master of his game. Singer, song-writer and all-round entertainer, his gift to appeal to broad audiences are attributes most still envy. He knew how to entertain and make the most of his audience while still respecting them. Penning hits songs such as I Still Call Australia Home, I Go to Rio, I Honestly Love You and countless others, Peter Allen was a songsmith without comparison. He tapped into the spirit of what made Australia a great place to live with his heartfelt ballads and toe-tapping tunes capturing imaginations still resonating.
Written and performed by Matthew Hadgraft, Peter Allen – Live In Inverted Commas is an enjoyable trawl through the Allen songbook. Whilst he may only bear a passing resemblance to him, Hadgraft successfully conveys Allen’s enthusiastic energy. His gift for comedic quips is also evident, with his ability to have fun even with the most serious songs mirroring Allen at his best. The first song he sang, The More I See You was a surprise choice given it seems to have become a forgotten Allen classic. Thankfully Hadgraft remembers it and brings the tune out of the shadows into the glittering light. It is pointless listing the tracks he sings with the Allen standards given a unique airing. What was pleasing was the amount of research clearly gone into unearthing lesser-known songs which added to the personal mystique of Hadgraft’s subject. They highlighted just how personal they were and how, despite the many Allen tribute acts in the decades since his passing, it’s difficult to have a bad Allen show.
Peter Allen – Live In Inverted Commas’ is definitely not a bad show at all, in fact it’s one of the best of its type. Mixing stories of his life amongst the tunes, Hadgraft’s Allen comes across as a determined dynamo thirsty for success. The hits that followed proved he achieved it, but at an emotional cost so vividly brought to life by Hadgraft. Whilst there were a few serious moments, the show had an overall sense of fun and packed a lot into a very entertaining hour. Audience participation was high with several lads and ladies daring to shake their groove thing with the man himself. This aspect was exceptionally well done as it drew you closer to Allen by capturing his ‘everyman’ persona to a tee. Although the audience numbers were small, they will no doubt grow if their very animated reaction was to go by.
With a ‘white grand piano’ on stage, Hadgraft’s musical style was superb. Banging the keyboards and shaking the maracas with enthusiasm, these mirrored Allen’s ferocious intensity. Although the vocals didn’t quite sound like him, they didn’t need to be. As long as they captured the power of the words and melodies then the job was successfully done. Hadgraft ensured his audience had a great time with the party like atmosphere consistent. After seeing several previous Allen shows, even I learnt a few new things in this production with the biographical details and comments from the audience adding much to conjuring a fully-formed person. Hadgraft has a few dance moves even Allen would have wanted with the occasionally wicked asides pure Allen naughtiness.
Matthew Hadgraft should be proud of his show which is filled with the dynamic energy Peter Allen displayed. His virtuoso turn does justice to the memory of a man whose work will forever be etched into the Australian psyche. For a fun-filled outing you can’t go wrong with Peter Allen – Live in Inverted Commas as it not only marks the performance of an exciting talent but successfully evokes the Peter Allen era in all its colourful glory.
Reviewed by: Patrick Moore
Rating out of 5: 5
Venue: Spiegel Zelt at Gluttony
Season: 6 – 18 March 2018
Duration: 60 mins.
Tickets: Full Price – $17.00 – $25.00, Concession – $22.00.