Naked Dream by Sydney singer-songwriter Rachel Collis seems to still be finding its place in the cabaret genre. However, for lovers of quirky tunes and barefoot ballads, the show is an apt addition to your Fringe viewing schedule.
Collis’ show lacks a connecting theme or narrative, but is rather a collection of songs, both soulful and silly, all performed by Collis and her trusty piano, ukulele and kazoo at La Bohème. Of all Adelaide’s intimate performance spaces, La Bohème is a common favourite. With its dark, candlelit space and vintage feel, it lends itself naturally to cabaret, but Collis’ show is more music gig than cabaret performance, and her casual, barefoot attitude clashes a little with the velvet-and-cocktails formality of the venue.
Of the wide variety of songs performed in Naked Dream, it is the quirky, comic pieces that earn the strongest response from the audience. With topics ranging from flightless ducks to sexy Brazilian waxers, and a truly terrifying cat-themed ditty that will have any feline lovers grabbing their kitties and heading for the hills, these numbers were witty and occasionally quite profound. The more serious numbers, however, were less impressive. The unfocused themes and predictable lyrics made songs such as the title tune, Naked Dream much less memorable than Collis’ quirkier numbers.
[pull_left]Although this songstress may have fit in better in an outdoor venue or an indie coffee shop, such a positive and enthusiastic performer is guaranteed to brighten your day[/pull_left]
As a singer, Collis is versatile, if a little ambitious. She is an emotive and likeable performer with a great range, and quite often shows beautiful vocal quality. Her attempts at powerful high notes come off a little screechy, particularly in such a small venue, but for the most part her pitch and musicality are admirable. She plays all three instruments well (although mastering the ukulele seemed to take up a little too much attention sometimes), and the simple accompaniment keeps the focus on her lyrics and soulful voice. When introducing her next number or trying for witty banter Collis seems a little stiff and over-rehearsed, but her stories about her suburban life and strange acquaintances are charming nonetheless.
Considering the casual nature of the show, the small stage and the blaring sunlight outside, some of the lighting choices seemed a little overdone, particularly the inexplicable disco ball. With Collis’ sweet summer dress and bare feet, such theatrical lighting takes away from the authenticity of the just-a-simple-girl-and-her-music vibe Collis tries to create.
With a few tweaks to the song-list, and perhaps rebranding as a music act rather than a cabaret, Collis could really be onto something with her project. Although this songstress may have fit in better in an outdoor venue or an indie coffee shop, such a positive and enthusiastic performer is guaranteed to brighten your day, no matter the location.