Cabaret doesn't get more macabre and twisted than in Suburban Gothic. There is definitely "some spooky shit going down" in this show, but what makes it even more unnerving is that it is all apparently taking place just down the road from where you live - or even closer to home...
What initially seem like charming and innocuous cabaret songs, soon turn grim and morbid at the
masterful musical hands of writers Karlis Zaid, Mark Jones and Karin Muiznieks. The songs
cleverly expose the darker underbelly of the suburbs in wry and witty ways, with no topic taboo.
Thus, a happy inner city dwelling couple heads off to a friend's house in Caroline
Springs only to become frustrated and panicked upon getting lost in the 'burbs. A "proud" father-of-the-bride gives a heartfelt speech at
her wedding to her and her "terrorist" husband Miguel and two strangers
at a park battle it out as to who is the prouder parent.
Performers Aurora Kurth, Zaid, and Jones all have strong commanding voices
on stage, well-crafted characterisation, and Kurth and Zaid's duets are especially impressive. Jones accompanies
these original songs on piano with his usual aplomb, and the numbers create an intended atmosphere of apprenhesion and uncertainty with the arrangement of mostly upbeat
"happy" music contrast unsettlingly with the grim and satisfyingly satirical tone of the lyrics.
Meanwhile, the settings of each song and scene are successfully constructed with minimal set
pieces and a few quick wardrobe changes, allowing the audience to fully immerse
themselves into the performance. This is all supported by Steven Gates’ simple
but meaningful direction of the cast and the neat and discrete lighting effects.
It’s a complex mixture of feelings when Suburban
Gothic ends. It’s a highly entertaining and ruthlessly funny and clever show, but it’s also quite
relentless in digging deeper and deeper into the things we usually would rather not
think about or want to be confronted with. When the nervous laughter has
subsided, we can of course take comfort in knowing that it was just a show and these
sorts of things don't happen here. After all, as the trio say on stage, it's
all mostly satire. Mostly.
Venue: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne
Season: Until 29 January | Fri - Sun 8:30pm
Tickets: $32 Full | $28 Conc
Bookings: The Butterfly Club
*Original review appeared on Theatre Press on 27 January 2017.