Successful mix and match cabaret

August 5, 1992

Successful mix and match cabaret

Sirens of Rhythm
Produced by Beth Child
Directed by Margaret Davis
At the Paint Factory, Donkin Street, West End, Brisbane
Until August 9. Bookings 3699418
Reviewed by Dave Riley

Billed as cabaret theatre, Sirens of Rhythm is a real mix of theatrical tools, from the deadly serious to burlesque. It packs a blend of music, dance and spoken word that ranges through an intense evening celebrating women.

There are songs written by the likes of Sinead O'Connor, Laurie Anderson, Holly Near and Christie Hinde. There is also poetry and monologue drawn from writers such as Monique Witting and Kate Llewellyn so that it struck me as an accumulation of favourite items lovingly adapted to the stage. But some of its most impressive and moving segments have been written by the performers themselves.

The self-deprecatory humour of "My Mother's Thighs" by Dawn Albinger and the wit of Beth Child's "That Word" turn abruptly to the horror of watching someone slowly die in "Your Eyes".

In such mix and match theatre, there is a danger some of the blending may suffer because there are so many sources, but Sirens of Rhythm avoids many of the pitfalls thanks to the stage presence and exuberance of actors Dawn Albery, Beth Child and Christen O'Leary. This is intense material to present on stage without a linking narrative, which would inevitably slow the whole thing down. That it works so well is the show's major success.

For a night of good music — particularly Stephanie McCraw's driving percussion — and performance, Sirens of Rhythm is a wonderful way to thumb through the scrapbook of celebrating feminism. But be well rugged up: the Paint Factory is chilly at this time of the year.

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