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The Swell Mob - Review

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by Tema (subscribe)
Write because you want to, not because you have to.
Event: -
An immaculate form of cabaret and theatre
Image sourced from Adelaide Cabaret Festival website

Overall rating: ★★★★1/2
Date attended: 09/06/2019

Walk into a dimly-lit Artspace and you'll be welcomed with the most dysfunctional group of quirky and outrageous characters - The Swell Mob - that will take you through a journey unlike any that you've ever experienced before. Take what each character has to offer you with a (generous) grain of salt and expect a significant level of tomfoolery and surprise, as each individual presents themselves as possessing a high level of skill that will leave you in a state of wonder. Ticking all the boxes to complete the mob set up, guests get to experience everything that makes a saloon atmosphere riveting, electrifying, and unknowingly attractive - there are singalongs, card games, and even a boxing ring that will see two defenders battle it out for a chance of survival.

Complete with a fully functional bar space, the saloon is decked out with artefacts, props, and rooms that resonate strongly with the 1800s vibe reminiscent of a well-aged taproom. Guests of the show are showered with mini adventures and side quests that also involve an impressive troupe of clowning, puppetry, and cabaret. Historical epoch hits its prime, as a level of uncertainty and mystery lingers throughout the show and when you least expect it, characters will leave you craving for your soul - through their deceitful and deceptive actions that will charm you and make you swoon with tingling curiosity.

Photo by Fatema Sitabkhan

The level of participation is completely up to you. You can choose to sit by the benches and observe the fun activities from afar, although if you want to get the full experience, I would highly recommend that you put yourself out there and be part of a unique immersive and interactive experience! From being given the task of bearing the most intimate of secrets to finding out your fortune to testing your luck in making big winnings, there's something for everyone who is after a bit of mischievous fun and debauchery. You are completely in charge of what (and who) you choose to interact with, so don't be shy to venture into rooms and spaces that may not be as populated as others.

Throughout the non-linear storytelling that unravels before us, guests exercise their decision-making abilities, whilst simultaneously being rewarded for their efforts through the cast momentarily rejoicing and coming together to create an entertaining and communal environment that unites the room with their performances (served with a side of meaningless yet concerningly excitement-inducing bar brawls).

Photo by Fatema Sitabkhan

This is a show unlike anything I've ever been to and despite my initial reservations around it being heavily reliant on audience participation, I am glad to have been a part of a twisted and dark world that boggled my mind in the grandest fashion. The Swell Mob by Flabbergast Theatre eloquently captures the magic of theatre with its versatile style of incorporating a range of themes around puppetry, clowning, and cabaret through an enigmatic cast, who effortlessly do justice to their respective characters. Whether you're an innocent bystander, who prefers to observe the happenings around you or are the kind who would wholeheartedly jump in and make the most of this chaotic yet mesmerizing piece of theatre, you can be rest assured that you will walk away feeling satisfied to have indulged yourselves in something that needs to be experienced first-hand. So, grab a London Porter or a Bathtub Gin (whatever tickles your fancy) and treat this dystopian world like a gift that needs to be unwrapped to its core to reveal an era that will change your life in a span of just 75 minutes (by the end of which, you'll wish it didn't end!). Just remember to keep your guard up and keep your money pouch close to your soul, for you could be deceived in a heartbeat and not even know it...unless it's too late!

Photo by Fatema Sitabkhan

Top tips to enjoy this show:
Leave your sceptical reservations at the door.
Dress up for the part if you want to stand out as an honorary audience member.
Don't bring too much to carry around.
If you're bursting with energy, channel that towards the show, because it will be a significant driving force of entertainment for everyone involved!

The Swell Mob by Flabbergast Theatre will be performing at the Dunstan Playhouse in the Adelaide Festival Centre as part of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival till June 22, 2019. Book your tix here.

*Tema was invited as a guest.
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Why? This is unlike any cabaret show that you've been to
When: Adelaide Cabaret Festival season
Where: Art Space Gallery, Dunstan Playhouse (Adelaide Festival Centre)
Cost: $49.90
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