Saturday 21 October 2017

Small Acts Of Love - Cabaret Review

What: Small Acts Of Love
When: 19 - 22 October 2017
Where: The Butterfly Club
Written by: Fiona Scarlett
Directed by: Sarah Vickery
Performed by: Angus Grey and Fiona Scarlett

Fiona Scarlett
I seem to have been following Fiona Scarlett's career quite by accident over the last few years and I have to say it has been a pleasure every step of the way. Beginning in 2015 with impressive vocals in Insomnia at La Mama, our paths crossed several times at The Owl and Cat Theatre where I was blown away by her acting. In Small Acts Of Love I got to see her combine drama and song in this wonderfully depressing cabaret about love shortening our life expectancy.

With the fey elegance of Leslie Caron, the presence and power of Shirley MacLaine, and the mesmeric vocals of Edith Piaf when Scarlett told us love kills I couldn't wait for the tale to unfold. Starting the show ensconced on a throne, ukulele in hand, and crooning 'Burning Ring Of Fire' it was anyone's guess where the show was heading. Scarlett cleared it up quickly though with the simple statement "Love kills".

Learning from the experiences of historical greats such as Tristan and Isolde, and Romeo and Juliet Scarlett concisely makes her argument. She also laments her incorrigible habit of ending romances amicably which is great for her life expectancy but not much help to a method actor.

Never fear though, because Scarlett has a plan. In the absence of any significant enough real painful breakups, Scarlett has decided to use the world of song to journey through a variety of pain and unrequited love in the hope she can shortcut her way to truth in acting. Accompanied by Angus Grey on the piano - repetiteur extraordinaire and very funny mime as well - Scarlett puts down the uke and everything starts to look very cabaret predictable. Sometimes, though, the cabaret form can blow you away. These times are when the artist truly has all the skills to bring the audience with her.

Scarlett has created a range of characters and one of my favourites is her French amore. Donning a beret and splayed across a bentwood chair she launches into 'Jezebel' - in French!!! The whole performance left me speechless and in no doubt about the awesome abilities of this Melbourne performer.

Switching between French and English a few times Scarlett explores the devastations, betrayals, frustrations, and humour of the trials and tribulations encountered when love comes to its end. I constantly found myself torn between closing my eyes and listening to the song and watching Scarlett perform. I didn't want to miss any of the experience!

Riffing off the concept of the Eternity Snake towards the end Scarlett turns down the lights, and bares her soul drawing tears from the audience with her words and with her song. Small Acts Of Love is a wonderful carpet ride which laughs at painful truths and shows us we are not alone. We are all part of a never ending line of people who have loved and lost...and died...

4.5 Stars

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