Sunday 23 June 2019

Creatures of the Deep - Melbourne Cabaret Festival review

Our oceans are dying and no one seems to care, but Picked Last For Sport is here to change that. With an aim to create environmentally sustainable and educational theatre, the company brought their award-winning documentary style cabaret Creatures of the Deep back for a short run during the Melbourne Cabaret Festival. Through some delightfully charming original songs and marvellously designed props, our Jacques Cousteau-esque narrator and his four unpaid interns dive deep into the ocean to introduce us to the various sea life that exist down below.

The performers - Jake Edgar, Cat Sanzaro, Ryan Smith, Sean Sully and Sarah Wall - have strong voices and ensure the songs they take the lead on are ones that will bring maximum use of their vocal range. Wall is particularly impressive with her sultry pink meanie jellyfish number, as is Sully's acoustic rendition on what it's like being a pregnant male seahorse.

To guarantee the audience engage with the material and the subjects, the group choose to focus on lesser known sea life and highlight even lesser known facts about them, such as the earlier mentioned jellyfish that actually eats other jellyfish or that sharks are unable to swim backwards. While it's impossible to list every single species of sea life, the ones they do select, along with a unique accompanying music style/genre for each, successfully conveys the idea that what lives in our oceans are far more than we could imagine.

There are a number of highly creative approaches undertaken in bringing each sea life featured to life, which includes specific costumes being worn and some puppetry. The cardboard cutouts of the Great Barrier Reef coral is simple yet extremely effective in representing how it is rapidly dying. There is considerable effort made in the show to humanise these creatures and have us care about them, so that when we are advised of the current state of our oceans, it really leaves an impact on us.

Having won Best Cabaret at the 2018 Melbourne Fringe Festival and nominated for numerous Green Room Awards, it is clear there is much to enjoy with Creatures of the Deep. It is a thoroughly entertaining call to arms that never loses sight of what its purpose is. While this season has ended, the company are planning on future performances so make sure to keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates.

Creatures of the Deep was performed between 20 - 23 June 2019 at Chapel Off Chapel.

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