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Brel at The Adelaide Cabaret Festival - Review

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by Georgina Tselekidis (subscribe)
Freelancer and aspiring journalist from Adelaide. Visual Arts graduate & current journalism student. Fashion, lifestyle, entertainment, art & food. I also write for The Adelaidian //
Celebrating the master of modern chanson
The Adelaide Cabaret Festival's finest stars come together in The Immortal Troubadour - a tribute to one of the greatest French music icons of all time, Jacques Brel.

With a set that takes us back in time to an otherworldly era, black street lamps descend over the stage as though we're in some sort of memoir, with a dreamlike quality throughout. The French mise-en-scene is established from the get-go and we're taken along Jacques Brels' impressive life through song.

Each performer gives something a little different and unique, as they personally step into the zone of the late French singer. In his songs Jacques evokes a strong emotive response through his dynamic vocals that possess a raw and coarse tone. This was successfully portrayed by the selection of passionate performers who had us mesmerized by their onstage urgency of love, loss and personal affliction.

Ali McGregor is more than just your average host. She also directed Brel and injects a personal flair into her time on stage, opening the performance with a rendition of Carousel, getting us keen to see what song will play next. Ali conveys her extensive experience in theatre, cabaret and all things performance in Brel, forming a fusion of multilayered characters that are a reflection of the flaws that exist in all of us. They bring about a wheel of emotions that are unpredictable, but relateable.

Brisbane-raised and Britain-based singer Dusty Limits gets the energy flowing through his rendition of La Chanson De Jacky. He adds a pop and cabaret edge with his theatrical spectacle of this classic track and into every aspect of his time on stage. It's as though Brel's song is not only done justice, but reinvented in a personal way. La Chanson De Jacky has a circus-like quality, like a roller coaster of high notes, slow rhythms and upbeat sounds. Dusty takes it further with his costume and make up that extracts a flamboyant eccentricity and flair. He tones it down a fair bit and reveals a softer side through his showcase of Le Moribund.

A few favourites of the evening were Michaela Burger, Eddie Perfect and Meow Meow. Michaela, who you might recognise from Exposing Edith, once again wowed us with her powerful take on much-loved classics. Although she is petite, she is a larger than life talent who is difficult to beat. Performing Les Bourgeois, she immediately captivated the audience with her vibrant and vivid energy, filled with a comical edge. Michaela is a clear example of what makes cabaret so enjoyable to watch.

As mentioned, Meow Meow also awed us with her humorous quality, reinventing Au Suivant (Next One). I can't think of a more perfect personality who could pull off this track in the way that she did, adding a touch of madness and quirk in any way that she could. This was totally evident through the audience collaboration, which had us shocked, in a good way. With mixed bouts of laughter, amazement, and utter enjoyment, Meow Meow seduced us by more than her revealing costume and sassy movements.

Lastly Eddie Perfect can not be faulted by his take on Port of Amsterdam. Dressed like an everyday contemporary male, with a coat, jeans and simple dress shoes, he slowly reveals another layer, as his voice gives us more. It's fierce and harsh, like a pirate on a deck expressing their emotion desperately. The song in general holds some sort of fisherman, pirate, or sea-like quality, but Eddie just heightens it in a way that only cabaret can.

The Adelaide Cabaret Festival is on until June 24.
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When: 18 June
Phone: 8216 8600
Where: Dunstan Playhouse - Adelaide Festival Centre
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