Saturday 25 June 2016

Manxious review

Manxious: the nerves and anxiety one exhibits while waiting for a man to text back. It's a serious affliction and something that Rachel Rai want to share with us in her cabaret show, Manxious. Despite its worrisome theme, it’s a fun show that not only showcases Rai’s ability to sing and perform, but also gives the audience plenty of laughs.

Rai intersperses a diverse number of songs throughout the evening as she goes through the excruciating process of waiting for a response to her perfectly created text. These numbers have been reimagined in ways that give them new life and celebrate Rai's versatility as a singer. Her inclusion of some iconic Australian songs would have to be the musical highlight of Manxious, including her audience rousing cover of John Farnham's “Pressure Down”. Another surprise was the theme from Home And Away, which was the last musical number I would ever expect to hear in a cabaret show, but Rai manages to make it feel like a genuine, heartfelt song.

The entire audience is able to relate to the emotional gamut being portrayed and Rai’s subtle and not-so subtle facial expressions are particularly fun to watch. Manxious is full of witty one-liners and surprises, including her loving ode to what many would consider a standard late night item for a truly great weekend. Rai’s delivery of punch-lines feel satisfyingly natural and receives many laughs, especially when she states, matter-of-factly, that she'd prefer her date to be dead than find herself being rejected. In the world of dating, it would be fair to say that never a truer, more rational thought was spoken.

While the space is not huge, Rai manages to not only squeeze in a bed, a three-piece band (including a piano and drum kit) and a singer on stage, but she also finds the room to smash out some pretty funky dance moves throughout the show. The idea of this band performing in her “bedroom” adds to the hyper reality of Manxious, allowing Rai to draw on the smallest of moments, and creatively explode them into a massive drama or cause of concern.

Throughout Manxious there were many times when audience members exclaimed “that is me!” and “ I do that!” While admittedly most of those exclamations came from my friends, this really is a strongly appealing show where everyone should be able to see themselves in Rai, and walk away laughing at how foolish we can be when it comes to our search for love. 

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne
Season: Until 25 June | 10pm 
Tickets: $32 Full | $28 Conc 
Bookings: The Butterfly Club 

*Original review appeared on Theatre Press on 25 June 2016.

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