"Initially the idea of a T-800 singing and revealing his inner monologue and feelings was completely oxymoronic," Alastair says, "The show fragments developed as a series of short sketches. They were humorous but essentially a light-hearted disjointed riff on the subject matter."
"From 2001 to 2003 I had this great job in Japan," says Alastair, "My best mate was a Terminator. We all lived in this special apartment block they'd built for all the westerners. We'd go out at night and we'd get into an elevator with three other Terminators."
While Alastair had always been a fan of the Terminator movies, it was these formative years that found him first riffing on the idea of Songs for Sarah Connor. As many people do, Alastair had a lot of fun parodying Arnie's accent and imagining the Terminator in different scenarios.
"You take a character out of their usual setting and you riff on that idea," he says of how the early concepts formed.
When Alastair came back to Australia he began working with musical and cabaret groups, and teaching musical theatre. That's when he began to further develop his riffs on Terminator, wondering, "What would he sing about?" "What's his inner monologue?" "What is his back story?"
"The ideas just started flowing from there," says Alastair, who adds that the cyborg really does go through an emotional journey throughout the show.
A cyborg having an emotional journey may be the most surprising thing about this show. You'll empathise with his plight and care in the moments of pathos, but you will still wind up laughing your head off at the clever libretto.
"T-800 is clearly a villain in the first movie but later transitions to a heroic role, complete with the ultimate heroic sacrifice of his own existence in order to protect his "family"," Alastair reveals, "It was also clearly established that the T-800 became more "human" as the movies developed; this was evident not only in his expanded vocabulary, interaction with other characters but also his understanding of the human condition."
But those who think the story, based mostly on Terminator one and two, might lack depth will find there's more to the action packed narrative than they expect.
"In the second movie they stop for petrol and there's a cutaway shot of two little boys running around with plastic guns and sticks and trying to hurt each other," says Alastair, "Johns sees it and looks at the Terminator and the Terminator sees it as well, and John says, "We're not going to make it are we?""
"That's a very profound thing to say," Alastair explains, "and a very accurate one sentence description of the human condition. Since day dot we've been killing each other and it's still happening."
So you're not just going to get chuckles and ear worms from this show. Songs for Sarah Connor will have depth and social commentary too. Most importantly, it promises to be unlike any cabaret you may have seen before. The lyrics are ridiculously clever and funny, the narrative is familiar yet still manages to surprise, and the song styles are eclectic and therefore more inclusive for audiences with varying music tastes.
Musicals and cabaret shows have to be pretty amazing for me to enjoy them, so you know it must be a mighty good cabaret show if I recommend it. In the case of Songs for Sarah Connor, I don't just recommend it, I think you'd be mad to miss it.
This show contains adult themes and is recommended for mature audiences. It's presented by QPAC in association with QLD Cabaret Festival.