When Bradley Storer suddenly appears in the basement space of The Butterfly Club, it's as if he's always been there. The melancholy and sadness that fills the room from the way he moves his body and looks off into the distance while performing his opening number is palpable. And so it should, as this is Storer performing EXHUMED: The 'best' of Bradley Storer.
Storer has such an unassuming presence that he can simply stand in the middle of the stage and command our attention for the hour. His introductions for each song - and at times, suite of songs - are laced with toned down camp humour but also take us to places of honesty and deep contemplation without feeling like you're at a fork in the road. We are able to sit with and enjoy both of these emotions.
Equally impressive is that Storer squeezes in a three piece band on the stage with him, led by musical director David Butler on piano, Reuben Morgan on violin and Cameron Bajraktarevic-Hayward on the cello. Various arrangements of songs by artists such as Nick Cave, Tori Amos and of course, Cher, keep the surprises coming in EXHUMED and display the versatility that Storer has as a singer, and his ability to recognise how small changes in how he performs each song can drastically change the experience for his audience. This is a theatrical performance just as much as it is a musical one.
Lighting designer Sandro Falce achieves quite the feat with the limited opportunities available in the space. Each song is offered its own unique ambience, from ominous but watery lights to the various torches and coloured lights that Storer uses, including a simple but highly effective design for the grand finale.
Storer has been performing cabaret for over a decade and if EXHUMED is the best he can do, well then let's hope he's around for another ten years. There is definitely plenty more to experience and enjoy from the twisted but highly entertaining musical mind of this dark princeling of cabaret.
Venue: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne
Season: until 8 October | 8:30pm
Duration: 60 minutes
Tickets: $37 Full | $33 Concession
Bookings: The Butterfly Club or Melbourne Fringe Festival