Adelaide Fringe

Fringe Review: Shirley Gnome: Taking It Up the Notch

Armed with her guitar and sharp wit, Shirley Gnome will sing you shameless, obscenely honest songs about sex and human nature that will have you in stitches.

Presented by Hey Boss
Reviewed 8th March, 2017

The Parlour venue at the Royal Croquet Club is a cosy, circular room, swathed in alternate red and blue plush; it has the look of a late-night circus. Ms Gnome appears, dispelling my suspicion that she may be vertically challenged. She’s a tall, willowy Canadian blonde. She wears a glitter-edged white cowboy hat, an enthusiastically bad interpretation of a cowgirl’s pink chiffon dress with stiffened skirt and too much sequinned applique, and tooled-leather cowboy boots.  She apologises for the dress, explaining it was designed by a stripper. Throughout the show, portions of her dress keep getting discarded.  She ends up in a black nun’s habit. It’s complicated.

The format is pure cabaret. She chats to us, she sings original songs, she chats some more. Sometimes she sings to a backing track; sometimes she accompanies herself on a glitter-encrusted guitar. It’s best if I summarise her playlist.  Some of the titles couldn’t be listed here without a flurry of asterisks.  All of her lyrics include those robust old Anglo-Saxon words. She uses them with shameless gusto, reminding us that they are a legitimate part of our hybrid language.

Her opening (unfortunate pun) song Believe in yourself, considers a dizzying range of objects and utensils, and where they might best fit.  Her lyric writing is witty, well-crafted and honed to a comedic point. She follows this song up with This is the part of the show Where you’re allowed to go – giving patrons too thunderstruck by the first song the chance to exit the performance. Nobody does.  It’s a reasonably late programme slot, and the audience are clearly happy with her material.  Next follow songs about her joy in being able to say a certain word in public in Australia, a fantasy involving the murder of a yapping dog (and, perhaps, its owner too), vegans and their bodily fluids, public farting, hatred of sing-alongs, the reason why babies cry, erect nipples and body hair Down There. The set is rounded out with a gleeful ditty, Death is coming for you and me.

Amongst the songs and the wackiness, Shirley Gnome offers some wry observations. A few samples:

“Montreal – it’s a stinkier, shittier, cheaper Paris.”

“What’s a pop song? It’s just children’s music with more bass.”

”Q: How do you know if someone’s a vegan? A: They’ll tell you…. and tell you….”

Her singing is excellent. Gnome’s voice is in fine shape, showing tremendous flexibility and a finely judged dynamic range.  The audience revel in her personality, her material and her performance. It’s a mark of her skill that we hardly notice how highly-skilled she is.

Reviewed by Pat. H. Wilson

Rating out of 5:  4.5

Venue:  The Parlour at Royal Croquet Club
Season:  7th – 19th March 2017
Duration:  60 minutes
Tickets:  $23.00 to $28.00




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