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What is this thing called love? – 2012 Adelaide Fringe

Presented by SINGular Productions
Reviewed Sunday 26th February 2012

Cabaret tables are set in the historic hall attached to the Deaf CanDo offices, transforming the space into the Butterfly House for Fringe. The stage is set with keyboard, a café table with a picture in a silver frame and a single rose, a concertina privacy screen and a café chair.

Adam Goodburn enters and plays out a few notes and provides the first of the quotes from one of Cole Porter’s friends. Matthew Carey then takes up position at the keys and Goodburn is joined by Deborah Caddy for their first number.

The show flips between being Goodburn and Caddy narrating the story of Cole Porter’s life and his relationship with his wife Linda Lee Porter, taking on the voices of Porter’s friends and associates to provide quotes about the couple and, finally, taking on the roles of Linda Lee Porter and Cole Porter themselves. It is peppered with Cole Porter’s music as the story unfolds.

Both Goodburn and Caddy have an opera background which is evident in their singing and their command of the stage. As this is listed as cabaret, more connection with the audience would be appreciated. Goodburn is a little more comfortable than Caddy with making eye contact during his monologues but both show their opera and musical theatre experience, singing to the balcony and, therefore, distancing themselves from the audience on the parquet. Audience connection can also be increased by the performers relaxing and enjoying the music, which Goodburn and Caddy started to do after the intermission. Porter has great lyrics with layers of meaning that can be expressed through voice, movement and expressions but the reaction to the understanding needs to come from a deeper connection to the music to convince a cabaret audience.

Whilst the voices are wonderful, accent selection varies. For Porter’s music, staying with an American accent is acceptable and it would be nice to see both performers relax and enjoy the music a bit more. Variation in accents could be emphasised to convey the transitions between the narration, quotes, and Porter and Linda Lee.

On keys, Carey is wonderful but, since he hasn’t been given any lines, it may be worth re-thinking his location. With the table, chair and screen, the set is already rather cluttered and the audience expects Carey to be throwing in a line or two if he is in such a prominent position.

With a bit more time for Goodburn and Caddy to get connected to the music and the underlying story and relax it is expected that the final two shows will have a greater cabaret feel rather than being midway between a cabaret and a musical. Goodburn and Caddy will hopefully have settled into their roles better and allow their connection to each other, the roles, the movement and the music shine through.

Reviewed by Jade Kops, special guest Fringe Critic, Glam Adelaide

Adelaide Fringe – What is this thing called love?
Singular Productions – What is this thing called love?

Venue: Butterfly House, 262 South Tce, Adelaide
Season: 7pm, Sun 26 Feb, 6pm Fri 16 & Sun 17 Mar 2012
Tickets: Adults $20, Concession $15, Child $10, Fringe Benefits $15, Group $15, Family $50
Duration: 80 min
Bookings: Fringetix 1300-FRINGE (1300-374643), their outlets ($2.75 booking fee applies when booking through FringeTix), or online

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