Friday 13 October 2023

Black Widow review (Melbourne Fringe Festival)

What do you do when you are a half-woman, half-spider searching for love while fighting your lust for blood? Write a cabaret about it. In Black Widow, Isabel Knight explores the highs and lows of finding a connection with someone as she is forced to live the life of an arachnid. This might not be the best time in Arachne's existence but Knight easily gets the audience tangled up in her seductive web of sex, love and death.

Knight's performance as Arachne - who in Greek mythology is transformed into a spider after insulting the Goddess Athena - is absolutely captivating and fascinating to watch. Her vocal cadence is brilliantly used to build the drama and the intrigue of her life and she remains consistent with her speech patterns. Knight presents a number of well-known songs and reimagines the lyrics to tie in with Arachne's life. She displays a great range in her singing ability, from pop ballads to rock to cabaret classics, with the standouts being James Blunt's "Goodbye my Lover" and Chicago's "When You're Good To Mama."

Unlike human Arachne, the set design is humble but confidently establishes the scene and mood, with a large chain running along the walls resembling her web. This simultaneously alludes to her sexual escapades and prowess in luring men to their deaths and an unexpected stage reveal midway through brings us even further into Arachne's penchant for blood sucking. The costume is a simple stroke of genius, with Knight wearing a black tight fitting body suit with four arms - beautifully manicured and jeweled - attached to her body.

Black Widow takes us on a journey through Arachne's life and while this could have turned into a cabaret with big loud numbers about spider senses and being a maneater, Knight takes us into the spiderwoman's thoughts, regrets and longings but with a biting sense of humour. It has a solid structure that covers traditional elements of storytelling but told in a refreshing way that definitely leaves a mark on you.

Show Details

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne

Season: until 15 October | 5:30pm
Duration: 60 minutes

Tickets: $37 Full | $33 Concession
Bookings: The Butterfly Club or Melbourne Fringe Festival

Image credit: Darren Gill


  1. Isabel, you can make your mama blush!!
    However, your performance, voice and messages about gender, relationships in modern day times were outstanding! So proud of you xx Mama

  2. Loved your performance and hope that the males that you consumed enjoyed their brief affair with the Black Widow