Imagine if, at some point in your twenties, you got to do a musical eulogy for your youth. You would have a writer and musical director at your disposal to help you craft the perfect performance and you could make it as joyous, dramatic, depressing or exciting as you wanted. Friends, family and strangers would gather in a theatre to travel with you as you relived your defining moments; cheering, crying, catcalling, wolf-whistling, sympathising, understanding and appreciating your existence.
This is, in essence, what Cassie George, Luke Volker and Michael Mandalios created with their cabaret production, There's Something About Mary(s). Michael worked behind the scenes to bring the production to life while Cassie provided her life story and vocals, and Luke offered his phenomenal musical skills as Cassie's "piano man".
Cassie's eulogy for her youth was all about love and we got to evolve with her through profoundly short-lived teenage romances into the spiralling complexities of deeper, longer and stronger bonds. The presence of her friends and family added a sense of warmth and intimacy to the night. Audience and performer were comfortably intertwined and, for an outsider, this created the voyeuristically delicious feeling of having snuck into someone's living room, helped yourself to their wine and pretended to be part of their family for the night.
If there are songs you adore because of the faces, times and places that flood your brain when they play (and songs you can't stand for the same reason), you will thoroughly relate to Cassie's journey. Some songs just fit your life so perfectly it feels like they were written for you. Cassie captured this feeling, making every song her own. I've never heard the Aussie accent so strong in a singer's voice before. Maybe I just haven't been to enough musical theatre but it struck me how perfectly she held on to her accent where other singers often seem to get sucked into the intonations of the original.
While the show was mostly full of laughter, Cassie's biggest loves came with some tragedy and the audience grew quiet as the emotion came through in her voice. I couldn't help thinking of the myth of Echo and Narcissus. The tale tells of a beautiful wood nymph, Echo, who falls in love with Narcissus, a man so self-involved he liked nothing more than gazing at his own reflection in the waterways of the forest. Unable to escape his narcissistic nature, Narcissus neglected Echo who lost her sense of self entirely to the grief. Unable to pull herself out of the downward spiral, the nymph became nothing more than a disembodied voice, echoing the songs of others. There was a moment where the loss of love seemed to be pushing Cassie towards such an eclipse but then she came through with a powerful resurgence of self. It was a moment filled with vulnerability, weakness and strength; something beautifully important for humans to share with each other.
Calling this show a eulogy may sound dark considering where eulogies are normally presented. But it perfectly expresses the sense of reviewing and celebrating the past while simultaneously freeing yourself of it, ready to move forward into whatever comes next.
There was something innocent, genuine, powerful, raw and real to what Cassie shared with us. I feel like the world would boast a far more balanced and happy population if we all had the courage to book a theatre and just vent out, in song, the feelings we've been harbouring over the most recent chapters of our lives. Perhaps, with There's Something About Mary(s), Cassie, Luke and Michael may just start a new trend.