Friday 28 June 2019

I Really Don't Care - Cabaret Review

What: I Really Don't Care
When: 27 - 29 June 2019
Where: Loft, Chapel Off Chapel
Written by: Ron Elisha
Directed by: Suzanne Heywood
Musical direction by: Meg Hickey
Performed by: Kate Yaxley
Kate Yaxley and Meg Hickey
I think in some ways everybody in the world is fascinated by Melania Trump. How can she be married to The Donald? Can she really love him? What is in it for her? This week you can find out playwright Elisha's point of view about this in I Really Don't Care at Chapel Off Chapel.

The title of this show refers to that day in 2018 when Melania decided to wear a jacket branded 'I Really Don't Care, Do U?' whilst on a visit to children of refugees who have been separated from their parents as part of the US immigration policy. It has since been explained as a message to a malicious media cohort, but at the time there was a lot of questions about the incidence which assumed an ugly position on the part of the American First Lady.

Elisha is a renowned playwright with an extensive back catalogue but I think I Really Don't Care shows his limitations. As an aging male I felt the text demonstrated his inability to empathise with the woman behind the he public image.

In some ways, I Really Don't Care is a fantasy in which Donald gets his come-uppance with Melania (Yaxley) struggling harder and harder to justify staying with him. In the end the question is raised as to whether even a prenuptial agreement is a strong enough incentive.

Elisha tries hard to reveal a women of depth and a mother desperately concerned for her son but the story is circular and repetitive and just keeps coming back to the idea Melania is simply a gold digger and will do whatever it takes to live the life she wants. In fact, at one point a lyric in one of the songs actually says that.

Speaking of the songs, they are fantastic and I wish there were more of them and less text, the lyrics are biting and clever and set to music we all know. The two stand out songs for me were parodies of 'Anything Goes', and 'Price Tag'. Yaxley is a phenomenal singer and I just wanted to hear more of her versatile, soaring vocals, and far less about Barron and Donald. - or even Melania for that matter. A less interesting bunch of people I can't imagine - except for Donald's ability to destroy the modern world, of course.

I Really Don't Care is a script which continually allows itself to delve into the banal and purile. There is commentary on the size of Donald's penis. A lot of time is expended on Melania's nude photo shoot with GQ and implications of escort work. The point at which the show reaches a real low is the discussion about Donald and Barron being on the autism spectrum. There is no evidence of such a thing despite media speculation and unless it is contextualised well, autism is a topic which should be treated with great respect.

To be honest, I feel Heywood's direction just feeds into the shallow stereotypes and she has Yaxley changing clothes so often it becomes incredibly tedious. On the bright side, you know that once Yaxley makes it through all the clothes on the dress rack the show will be over. The idea is to reinforce the idea of Melania as a style icon and ex-model, but turning Yaxley into a clothes horse is serious overkill.

Yaxley and Hickey make a good team. They both attended the Queensland Conservatorium together and their synergy is evident and explains why the songs are just so good. Hickey also doubles as Melania's personal dresser for the never-ending costume changes with a wonderful attitude of discreet, bored tolerance which fills in the gaps between the music.

I find myself curious as to how audiences will respond to I Really Don't Care. I think on opening night there was a significant number of people in the room who might be sympathetic to Donald's world view and I did hear a couple of older men after the show discussing whether penis size should be an issue. I agree. Perhaps in the Comedy Festival or the Fringe Festival there might be a more energetic response.

I probably sound as if I didn't like the show, which is not true. I just didn't like the point of view of the show and did not feel it really had a female sensibility. Yaxley is magnificent in her role and everything production is schmicko. The inner feminist in me did get a boost as Melania talks about Donald's propensity for the pussy grab, etc. I think it was just a bit cruder and shallower than I was hoping for.

Don't miss this opportunity to see Yaxley perform though. We will be seeing a whole lot more of her on Australian stages, believe me!

3 Stars

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