Introducing Molly Pope – Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2011

Presented by the Adelaide Festival Centre and the Adelaide Cabaret Festival
Reviewed Saturday 11th June 2011

Venue: Artspace, Adelaide Festival Centre, King William Road, Adelaide
Season: 9pm Friday 17th June 2011
Duration: 60 mins
Tickets: adult $29/conc $25/Green Room $19.95
Bookings: BASS 131 241 or

Molly Pope takes us through ten years of her life, from arriving in New York, suitcase in hand, her struggle to be seen, her rise to fame and her fall into to drug addiction and the end of her career. It may not, of course, all be completely true, but it makes a good story to link all of the songs together. She enters through the audience, carrying a small case, her flaming red hair piled into a beehive and wearing a very 1960s style dress. There are some strange conflicts scattered throughout the work, though, that throw date perspectives into disarray, such as lifting the earpiece of a an old style telephone and winding the handle to attract the operator, then asking the person on the other end to send her a text message.

This unusual juxtaposition of old and new continues in the songs themselves, new songs with a retrospective treatment. It is a quirky treatment, but that is only one significant aspect to this production. Another important theme runs through the performance, with continual references to old films that parallel elements of her own tale. She is accompanied by pianist Kenny Mellman, who is also performing in the Festival with his show Our Hit Parade. He seems to be very much in tune with what Pope is trying to accomplish in this production.

She takes anything and everything that suits her tale in a mix as eclectic as the tale is diverse. There is Abba’s Dancing Queen, Fagin’s song, You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two, from Lionel Bart’s Dickensian musical Oliver, Sinatra’s hit, I’m Gonna live Till I Die alongside Amy Winehouse, INXS and even Marilyn Manson, as she throws pills at herself and the audience to the strains of The Dope Show.

Her tale twists and turns, with lots of laughs along the way, especially when she comes to grief whilst stalking an ex-lover who has tired of her and tossed her aside. And there is her voice, one minute belting with hints of, as she herself says, Ethel Merman, but capable of controlled softness on some of the ballads. There is a lot going on in this performance and the audience were certainly impressed. You can take a look for yourself with one more show tonight.

Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.

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