Presented by the Cabaret Fringe Festival
Reviewed Tues 22nd June 2010
Venue: Format Space, 15 Peel Street, Adelaide
Season: 8PM nightly 24th and 26th June
Tickets: Adults $27.50/conc $20
Bookings for all Cabaret Fringe shows: BASS 131 241 or http://www.bass.net.au
Jamie Jewell offers a phenomenal evening of cabaret, exploring the darker side of human existence as The Lonely Man. Abandoned as a child, alone in later life, deeply depressed, suicidal, living in poverty and squalor is now his lot. The cellar at Format Space suits the performance, with storage crates stacked to form the walls of his confined residence, surrounded by his meagre and dilapidated belongings.
He enters in an old Mackintosh, scarf and hat, removing them to reveal an unbuttoned dress shirt and dinner suit trousers. He sings Queen’s The Show Must Go On as he settles into his abode. He finds things to hold the shirt closed and puts on the dinner jacket, then begins to while away his time, rummaging through his possessions, seeking the missing ace from his deck of cards, that he spreads out in a Tarot reading, rolling a dice, and playing with a clockwork toy car that is missing a tyre. During this he sings I Don’t Care Much from Cabaret, leading on to When Your Love is Gone, from Jimmy Barnes. He plants a flower in a tin can and adds it to others around his room, all in various stages of death. He finds his old teddy bear, and reassembles that broken parts. Every movement, every event, adds to the sadness.
When he sings Over the Rainbow the optimism of Dorothy Gale is no longer in evidence, being replaced by what appears to be more of an attempt to convince himself of the possibility of better things and, when this is combined with Where is Love, from Oliver, which takes on an even more desperate feeling than usual, his pain is most evident. He continues to show us that he is more desperate than optimistic as he sings Maybe This Time.
When he puts an old 78RPM record on the turntable, the strains of Look for the Silver Lining belie what we see before us. There seems to be no silver lining to his clouds. Marvin Hamlisch’s What I Did For Love screams of loss and regret. From Annie, the story of the eternally optimistic Little Orphan Annie, comes Maybe, but it is far too late for a reuniting with his parents now. Each song tells us more of his tragic journey to his current situation. When he returns to Queen for I’m Going Slightly Mad, and moves on to Jacques Brel’s The Desperate Ones, it all seems very apt. The end is inevitable, or is it?
As he goes about his pathetic business he sings songs of loneliness and despair, many so powerful that, as they ended, the audience could not bring themselves to applaud for fear of spoiling the moment. Jewell sings without amplification, relying on his superb accompanist, Richard Coates, to maintain the balance between keyboards and voice. This balance never falters.
We all make choices and take actions as we go through our lives, sometimes consciously, sometimes not. These often have consequences, even if we are never aware of them. In this show the audience make choices that have consequences, and this is seen, but we never know what consequences making a different choice would have had. If that makes little sense now, it will all become clear when you see this performance.
Jamie Jewell’s performance is nothing short of magnificent. The beautifully sensitive accompaniments and complementary lighting cannot be faulted. This is a moving, touching, disturbing, thought-provoking and thoroughly rewarding production. Do not miss this one.
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor Glam Adelaide.