Libby O’Donovan is, without doubt, one of Adelaide’s top cabaret performers. In fact, her secret seems to be that she doesn’t so much perform as just be herself – bubbly, funny, humble, with a crisp clear voice that can affix an audience with its softness and stun with its big, belting vocals.
O’Donovan’s latest show, Songs Only a Mother Could Love is unashamedly sentimental and was a clear hit with this reviewer and the second night audience, young and old, who packed La Boheme to the rafters. The coldness of the June winter night was soon replaced by the warmth of the performance and the fieriness of the performer. O’Donovan’s rapport with an audience and her personality could easily melt an iceberg.
Songs Only a Mother Could Love is based on the fact that most of us have music in our lives from birth, with our mothers singing lullabies to us, through to our declining years – dementia patients sadly can’t remember their families, but can sing every word of their favourite songs from childhood.
Ms O’Donovan hushes the audience with the lullaby “All the Pretty Horses”; she has them all merrily singing along to the chorus of “Morningtown Ride”, reminiscing with “The Skye Boat Song”, and laughing hysterically at anecdotes of her family.
The fact that Libby O’Donovan believes in the power of music and family is highly evident in the ‘special guests’ she has lined up for this show: her father (singing “Danny Boy” with her); her mother, sister, nana (and nana’s companion) singing their favourite childhood songs; and Australian Country & Western star Beccy Cole singing her own composition, “Mother Knows Best” with her own mother, Carole Sturtzel.
Pianist Mark Ferguson completes the perfect evening with his expert playing and showing his professionalism along with that of O’Donovan’s by both continuing nonplussed when the keyboard stopped working at one point.
Songs Only a Mother Could Love is full of songs everybody could love, and is one of those rare cabaret performances that makes one leave the venue not only entertained, but thoroughly contented. It is definitely a highlight of this year’s Cabaret Fringe.
Reviewed by Brian Godfrey
Venue: La Boheme, 36 Grote St., Adelaide
Season: 12 – 16 June
Duration: 1hr 30mins
Tickets: $20.00 – $30.00
Bookings: Book online at the Cabaret Fringe Festival website or tickets available at the door if not sold out