Adelaide Cabaret Festival – Meow Meow

Meow Meow certainly knows how to make an entrance. A diva of her class deserves nothing less than rapturous applause and masses of adoring fans throwing roses upon the stage. If, like at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, such a glamorous affair isn’t forthcoming, no bother, Meow Meow is perfectly adept at improvisation.

Meow Meow. Image by Karl Giant
Meow Meow. Image by Karl Giant

Meow Meow, who sometimes goes by Melissa Madden Gray, takes cabaret to new, exciting, and dizzying heights. Over the years there have been numerous shows in the Adelaide Cabaret Festival where observers are never safe from audience interaction, but having witnessed Meow Meow ply her trade, my appreciation of audience participation has broadened significantly (we are her props, and she utilises us expertly).

Meow Meow’s theatrical prowess hypnotises the audience into following her down a path of musical mayhem towards witty and wicked Weimar tunes, Brel, Brecht and more. The promise of the most enthralling cabaret experience dictates that you will follow wherever she leads. I guarantee it. And if you don’t, you’ll be sworn at in German.

The one hour and ten minute show is a continual highlight, and it feels wrong to focus on any one particular aspect. That said, ‘Ne Me Quitte Pas’ was a crowd favourite with the hilarious action on stage (well played Peter and Dennis) matched only by Meow Meow’s expressive vocals. The inherent risk of high-energy productions is performer (and, more likely in this case, audience) burnout. Meow Meow manages to perfectly taper her performance with emotional ebb and flow, dancing effortlessly between hysterical laughter and stunned silence within moments.

In addition to Meow Meow’s brilliance, every technical aspect of the production is of the highest quality. The musical duo provides a sturdy foundation for Meow Meow (and aren’t outside of her comedic reach). The stage manager performs a key role (also, not outside her comedic grasp). The sound and lighting enhanced the production and Meow Meow’s ‘self lighting’ in the final number drew the audience even closer to the fascinating, enthralling and sexy protagonist.

In a show where Meow Meow is constantly battling the producers, it seems as though everything must be done the hard way. If it isn’t wardrobe issues, then it’s the smoke machine, or the lighting, or the revolving stage, or, heavens above, the trapeze! Regardless of the challenge, Meow Meow always prevails with absolute professionalism and sidesplitting hilarity. Honestly, the majority of the audience was in tears!!

Even though Meow Meow perpetually faces challenges and nothing seems to work as planned, this production works in every way. Language, costume and adult content necessitate the 8.30pm time slot, but for anyone over 16 this is cabaret show is an absolute must see! It’s no wonder why her season at the Dunstan Playhouse was a sell out, and it’s a real shame that the season isn’t much, much longer.

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