Wednesday 26 September 2018

The Date - Cabaret Review

What: The Date
When: 24 - 30 September 2018
Where: Downstairs, The Butterfly Club
Created by: Dean Robinson
Performed by: Stephanie Lewendon-Lowe, Dean Robinson and Megan Scolyer-Gray
Dean Robinson, Megan Scolyer-Gray and Stephanie Lewendon-Lowe
The Date is back at The Butterfly Club for Melbourne Fringe Festival after a successful season in January. With the same cast (different accompanist) the show is a jaunty and ultimately heart-warming journey through the angst of preparing for a first date.

Set in the traditionally ramshackle bedroom of a single man, The Date explores Justin's (Robinson) nervous preparation for a first date - as we learn later in the show, it is his first on a couple of very important layers. In the olden days your friend used to come around and help you prepare for important moments such as this but with unlimited talk and text plans the modern version involves sending pictures to your friend and speaking to them on speaker phone for an hour as you faff around doing and redoing your hair, etc.

Chrissie (Scolyer-Gray) is the BFF who is having a self-pitying night at home in her pyjamas and supporting Justin through this momentous occassion. She listens to his clothing angst, his meeting angst, his other potential romances angst, and keeps him heading in the right direction. It is when she hangs up things go awry as good and bad exes start popping up until the doorbell rings...

The Date is cute and fun with, for the most part, an unexpected selection of song choices. Yes, 'Let It Go' did come up, but one of the great features of The Date is the song arrangements which were creative and unusual.

Robinson has a lot of versatility as an actor and really does pull at the heart strings with his sincerity when it really matters and the show has a heart breaking/warming ending. There is way to much hair business, though!

You can tell Robinson has had vocal training but whilst his voice is powerful his range is limited and he hasn't chosen songs which show off his strengths, particularly in the last part of the show. To be honest after Chrissie hangs up I kept thinking to myself "stop singing and just go on the goddamn date!" You could easily cut at least two of the songs at the end.

Although Robinson keeps her tucked away in the corner of the stage the real star of The Date is Scolyer-Gray. Even though she never leaves her little nook in her dressing gown her acting is superb and her powerful and skillful singing blows the roof off The Butterfly Club. Robinson and Scolyer-Gray do a number of duets (my favourite was the 'Holding Out For A Hero'/'Gimme Gimme Gimme' medley) and a few solo numbers.

Kudos to Lewendon-Lowe, the accompanist too. She is a powerhouse on the piano and kept the show pacy and dynamic.

The Date is an early show and is a great way to transition from a day at work to a night of Fringe fun and frolics. The Butterfly Club cocktail of the week is the Nana's Nightcap and I can personally attest to it's refreshing delight. Who says 5:15pm is too early to start drinking? With apple slices tucked into the glass that makes it healthy, right?

2.5 Stars

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