The Melbourne Cabaret Festival runs for only eight days and already in this week-plus-a-smidge there are a multitude of musical and theatrical gems to be uncovered. Monday saw the debut of And I, In My Chair!
Led by artist Lachlan Bartlett and supported by a phenomenal pair of musicians in Jo Abbot on piano and Sarah Su on drums and guitar, the show wove a compelling thread through autobiography, activism, audience interaction, and landscaping anecdotes.
Lachlan begins the show relaxed in white satin gown and tan work boots. It’s a contrast that’s played with throughout the show as in-between renditions of songs such as Windmills of your Mind or Champagne Taste are numerous amusing stories and quips from the worksite. Songs are either delivered with a sort of wild pomp or still and stark.
Just when the performance falls into this pattern, Lachlan – having already stepped behind a folding fan to change from the gown and boots into a sleek, beautiful dress – changes again with the dark introduction of 1920s drag queen, Iva Rosebud.
With two ciggies in one hand and microphone in the other, Iva continues with the tunes although her stories of an unhealthy relationship with booze (even for the 20s) certainly skew darker, though Lachlan does well to ensure levity is never far away.
For all the banter, the most moving story in the piece is told early: Lachlan as a child discovering his mother’s dresses in her wardrobe. To be sure, Iva cuts a stunning figure on stage even with the occasional drunken slur and stumble, but it was the image of a small boy lost among tall swathes of different fabrics and textures that stayed with you throughout the show and afterwards.
I wanted to hear more about him, and in fairness we did in a way. Ultimately this was a funny and entertaining show that more than earned its standing ovation.
And I, In My Chair!
Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran
Performance: Monday 21 June 2021 – 6.00pm
Season continues to 22 June 2021 – 9.00pm
Information and Bookings: www.melbournecabaret.com
Image: Lachlan Bartlett – photo by James Thomas
Review: David Collins