The Last Cabaret on Earth
Emma Balfour reviews the 2016 Wom*n’s Revue
In 2007 Christopher Hitchens published an article called “Why Women Aren’t Funny” and honest to god I would resurrect him from the grave so that the cast of 2016 Wom*n’s Revue could give him an individual rendition of their show. I would then like to see him personally apologise to directors Kendra Murphy and Sarah Gaul for ever deigning to speak those words while wom*n like them walk this earth.
I was at the opening night of The Last Cabaret on Earth, and it’s impressive from the moment you step into the Reginald: a grungy apocalypse set is strewn with a burnt-up punk grrl gang. I would have happily let them walk on my spine in stilettos. Their apocalypse clothes act as their theatre blacks throughout the show – a choice which at times distracted from the sketches, but was at all times #aesthetic.
The audio design for the show instantly evoked a multitude of scenes, and the music as conducted by Josie Gibson, didn’t disappoint (it never does). Even with a few opening night technical kinks the show was hugely pleasing – hey, what’s a non-kinky Wom*n’s Revue?
The sketches were best when they ended on the biggest laugh, but occasionally they had a little too much preamble to get there, or lingered too long afterwards – a sketch with a frightened child early on could benefit from being a minute or so shorter. Some of the sketches needed one last rewrite for a quicker punchline. A few socio-political sketches toed the line of lecturing, but these rough spots (which are literally found in any revue) were easily out-shone by the brilliant performances. If I get married tomorrow I want every person from this revue to be in my bridal party I am so in awe of their performing skill.
Without spoiling sketches, standout performances include the electric Katie Thorburn, Shevvi Barrett-Brown, and their animated magnetic stage presence even in minor roles, Belinda Anderson-Hunt’s glassy-eyed and haunting presence, and some bedazzling physicality from Ondine Manfrin. The cast had finely tuned improv senses – Tiff and Concetta were brutally quick-witted, and the fast actions of Bridget Haberecht during some microphone mishaps had the audience cheering.
Stand-out sketches for me personally were the T2 parody, which I believe to be perfectly constructed, a confronting Bachelorette homage, and a pitch perfect sketch about a late-night party conversation. Oh, also fuck mineral water. It’s dirt water full of bubbles, and I applaud these wom*n for standing up for what they believe in.
I’ll be honest: I’ve seen a lot of revues. This ain’t my first rodeo. They all have ups and downs, but the ups in this show are absolutely not to be missed. This revue has a phenomenally talented cast and wicked impressive stagecraft. Where it occasionally lacks in polish, it more than makes up for in style, delivery, and fishnet tights.
If you want to have a fun time at Wom*n’s Revue, too bad. They’re sold out. As they should be.