Adelaide Cabaret Festival – Virginia Gay: Songs to Self-Destruct to

The beauty of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival is that there is such a diverse mix of entertainment. Virginia Gay’s Songs to Self-Destruct to has it all. The production is a melting pot of musical genres, with a dash of crazy, a swig of sexy and bucket-loads of hilarity.

Virginia Gay. Image supplied
Virginia Gay. Image supplied

Virginia Gay is an expert of cabaret. She owns the stage, mesmerises (and occasionally terrifies) the audience, and evokes tears of laughter followed almost immediately by enchanted silence.

Returning to the Adelaide Cabaret Festival for the second consecutive year, Songs to Self-Destruct to is a wonderful follow up to Dirty Pretty Songs. The subject matter of this year’s production is insomnia, a condition that Virginia is well versed in, having suffered sleepless nights for around 16 years. She works her way through an average sleepless night, hour by hour, musically punctuating the highs (I thought for a moment that we were going to stumble upon the answer to world peace) and lows.

Under the musical direction of Simon Ross (piano, piano accordion and ukulele – any show with a uke solo is bound to be a success!!), the music is formidable. It’s rare to see a show that moves so sweetly between Gotye, Kanye West, and Prince, each of course with Virgina Gay’s own unique and quirky interpretation. The musical mash-ups are the highlight: the blend of ‘Mr Sandman’ with Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’, with a dose of AC/DC to move things along. Seriously, brilliant!

In fact, the whole musical performance was exceptional. Virgina Gay’s voice is dynamic, with a wondrous and enviable vocal range. Ross’s accompaniment and leadership of Gavin Pierce (bass) and Benny Cann (drums) is superb and, considering that this was the first ever show of Songs to Self-Destruct to, the musical aspect of the performance was incredibly cohesive.

And that’s not even the good bit! The highlight, as was the case in Dirty Pretty Songs, is Gay’s patter and interaction with the audience. She is obviously a very intelligent performer whose quick wit can make any audience heckling into a wonderful addition to the production.

The larger venue, the Banquet Room, lends itself to better sound and lighting quality. And both of these technical aspects were a positive aspect of the production.

Songs to Self-Destruct to is brilliant value. With tickets priced at $39.90, audiences would leave just as satisfied if ticket prices were doubled. Be warned though, as an audience member you are never safe (regardless where you sit!), but it is this visceral intimacy and, at times, intimidation that makes Songs to Self-Destruct to a highlight of this years Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

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