Friday 1 February 2019

Jen Der Unpacks - Cabaret Review

What: Jen Der Unpacks
When: 31 January - 2 February 2019
Where: Hares & Hyenas
Created and Performed by: Kat Mroz
Kat Mroz
Jen Der is the alter ego of Kat Mroz and you can meet Jen Der before she runs away to the USA at Hares & Hyenas this week. Playing for only 3 nights in this Midsumma Festival you have to be quick to catch this firebrand before she takes her wild leap into the unknown.

Jen Der is a country girl who hails from Albury Wodonga. She has hit the jackpot (?) and finds herself with a green card and dreams of making it big in the Land of the Free. Her bags are packed, her playlist is full, and her eyes are wide open so as to not miss a moment of her big adventure.

Jen Der's playlist is fabulous and rocks everything from Edith Piaf to Chaka Khan, from Bros to John Williamson, and she is going to dance her way across the world. Her accent has already traveled far and wide and slips from English to American before sliding back into a comforting broad Strine.

Jen Der is a lip sync artiste and she is one of the few I have seen in recent years who understands that the music has to be loud for the sync to work - praise be! Intriguingly, she also syncs some of the dialogue too which is unusual but works beautifully to settle the audience into a world where her mouth is not always the source of all words.

Jen Der lip syncs and club dances her way across the 45 minute show and really, this is what she is showing us. Yes, there is some sort of narrative, but it is fractured and non-linear so I kind of stopped listening and just enjoyed her brilliant and ecclectic taste in music. This is one of the few cabarets I have been to where I had no idea what I was going to hear next and was never disappointed by the choices.

Perhaps the biggest complaint I had is the songs should have had their fade outs cut. You can't dance or lip sync to a fade out, so Mroz should just cut the music where she wants it to end and moved the story along. (I use the word story loosely here).

Jen Der Unpacks is light, fluffy fun and, with a late start (9pm), is a show perfectly made to transition between Midsumma madness and a evening of clubbing into the early morning hours. To get things moving Jen Der encourages us all to get up and dance with her before heading into a night of continued partying and play.

2.5 Stars

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