The Adelaide Cabaret Festival has showcased the diversity of the cabaret genre with Scott Evan Davis’ song cycle, Picture Perfect. The rolling musical journey explores the reality behind the ‘picture perfect’ façade we attempt to present to the world – the truth behind the “perfectly composed family portrait.”
Given that this song cycle has already seen multitude machinations and reincarnations, it’s best to consider Picture Perfect as an evolving creation. In this incarnation, Picture Perfect possesses a narrative that loosely follows the trajectory of a relationship.
From the opening number, ‘Cautiously Optimistic’, it is evident that Scott Evan Davis’ compositions are of a wonderful standard (and at times JRB-esque). Davis even delves into a similar domain of social examination, and the result is fascinating. The first half of the show is emotionally draining. There’s ‘Nothing I Can Say’ performed by David Harris and Amity Dry is the most commanding breakup song you will ever hear, and Paul Talbot’s ‘More Than Just Sundays’ is a powerful follow-up.
The intermittent lighter numbers – ‘Everyone Has A Vice’ (exceptional ensemble number) and ‘Just A Word’ (I could literally listen to David Harris’ voice all day) – are a welcome reprieve.
Scott Evan Davis’ piano accompaniment showcases his musicality, which is further enhanced by the rich tones of a cello. David Lampard’s direction and design, a cubist picture-frame set, provides a perfect space for the music to be brought to life by an incredibly talented cast of vocalists – David Harris, Johanna Allen, Amity Dry, Naomi Eyers and Paul Talbot. The various artists, with no set characters, weave between individual brilliance and a mostly cohesive ensemble. The ensemble numbers would have benefited from more rehearsal time, with lyric and movement disagreements occasionally evident.
With no dialogue throughout, this song cycle is very different from the ‘norm’ as far as Adelaide Cabaret Festival productions are concerned. For some, this deviation from routine may be challenging, but for the majority, Picture Perfect presents an excellent opportunity to further explore cabaret while enjoying some exceptional music.
Picture Perfect in its current form has a workshop feel. As is the case with most workshops, changes will inevitably be made. Before long Picture Perfect will be the musical relationship encyclopedia. Keep an eye out for it!