The Last Days on Earth – Feast Festival 2012

Presented by Jamie Jewell
Reviewed Sunday 11th November 2012

Jamie Jewell created and performs this work, with direction by David Paul Jobling. It looks at four individuals as they approach the end of the world, or the end of their own worlds. First, there is a woman whose only company while her man is away, is her small dog. Secondly is a browbeaten German Australian, who goes for a ride on his motorbike to escape his nagging wife. Thirdly, there is the homeless man of strong opinions, unaware of his impending doom and, lastly, there is the transplant patient waiting for a suitable donor.

Jobling’s direction maintains a good pace and allows Jewell to find all of the possibilities in his characters. Each character is introduced by a short section of video, projected onto a large screen, leading into the live action. This video also allows time for set and costume changes. Jewell’s four characterisations are thoroughly convincing although, if you had seen his marvellous Fringe/Cabaret Fringe show, The Lonely Man, you would already be aware of his superb skills as an actor and singer. The four characters could hardly be more diverse and yet Jewell switches between his performances of their personae as quickly and completely as he switches the costumes and make up. Every one becomes real, and you are likely to see aspects of people that you know in each of them.

He exposes the raw nerves of each of his characters as they approach their ends and he injects humour alongside deepening sadness. As this is cabaret, each character also has a range of songs relating to them and their stories, rewritten lyrics to well-known songs that never seem to be just added on but are integral to the performance. Jewell gives a mighty set of performances, and who else would think of bringing a huge motorbike onto a cabaret stage as a prop?

Musical Director, Carol Young, plays keyboards with her group, the Paramedix: the phenomenal jazz saxophonist, Chris Soole, Harley Grey on bass, and Brad Polain on drums. There is some very fine work from these musicians but, unfortunately, the sound mix overemphasised the drums, often drowning the others, with the constant crack of the snare drum accents becoming both monotonous and painful.

During the German would be ‘bikie’ section it was almost impossible to hear and understand Jewell, as his voice was very low in the mix. Hopefully the person responsible will have sorted this out before the next performance. There is nothing more infuriating than seeing an exceptional show being ruined by an incompetent technical person.

One could not fault the performances, however, and that is the important thing. Jamie Jewell and the musicians provide a little over an hour of captivating and worthwhile cabaret that leaves one wondering why he has not yet been scooped up by the Cabaret Festival. Do we have to wait until he is a big name in New York and London? Ensure that this is on your Feast Festival list.

Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.

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Venue: The Ballroom, Feast Hub, Light Square, Adelaide
Season: 9:30pm Sunday 18th November
Duration: 1hr 15mins
Tickets: adult $25/conc $18.50
Bookings: phone 8463 0684 or Feastix via Feast web site here

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