Sunday 14 April 2024

#SWIFTOK - Cabaret Review

WHAT: #SWIFTOK
WHEN: 11 Mar - 21 April 2024
WHERE: The Motley Bauhaus (Cabaret room)
WRITTEN AND PERFORMED BY: Dean Robinson

Dean Robinson - photo by Elyse Batson

The Comedy Festival is here and our stages are full of everything silly and fun. Dean Robinson's one person cabaret #SWIFTOK is very silly fun indeed and is playing at The Motley Bauhaus, upstairs in the cabaret room.

The premise is simple. Dean is a 14 year old 'Swifty' and is livestreaming from his bedroom his complete obsession with Taylor Swift. As quick as we might to disregard Swift and her fans it is important to remember just how important this woman who appears so unassuming actually is. 

Swift is one of the world's best-selling music artists. She is the highest grossing female touring act, and the first billionaire with music as her main source of income. Her music spans a wide range of music genre and (as Dean tells us and impressively demonstrates) her lyrics have been compared to the writings of William Shakespeare and the truth is her songwriting skills really are impressive. She writes all her own songs and is rerecording early releases to reclaim her IP. In case you want to deride her music, her grandmother was an opera singer and Swift has never used autotune to correct her vocals.

Robinson explains how TikTok works, and the range of Swifty's who inhabit #SWIFTOK including the conspiracy theorists, the lip synchers, and the clowns. Along the way he lament's Swift's poor record dating men with names starting with the letter J and seems to have undertaken a mission to get Swift back together with the infamous Harry Styles. Robinson talks about the derision Swift receives for writing from personal experience when that is exactly what all the male artists do too. This reminded me of the flack PINK got when she brought out 'I'm Not Dead'. 

All of this is accompanied by Robinson singing excerpts from Swift's playlist. My biggest criticism is how pitchy he is and how by the end all of the excerpts started sounding like the same song. Maybe that is a deliberate commentary too? In his defense though, the venue had a VERY loud jazz band downstairs on the night I went which was very distracting.

Interspersing the Swift obsession there is some reference to reality with Robinson not speaking to his best friend Brittany because she has a boyfriend now, and there is someone called Troy who is a classmate. All of that got a bit lost for me and I wonder if this was aged right. My recollection of being 14 was a great desire to become an adult. It sounded to me like Brittany, Dean and perhaps Troy were still playing primary school games... 

#SWIFTOK is a bit unpolished right now, but it is harmless fun and Robinson has a natural childish charm which makes you want to smile whenever he does and the props are so much fun. If you don't know much about (or have never heard of) the TCU you will learn a lot, and if you are a Swifty you will have a good time. Robinson even leaves us with a prediction into the future and now all I can do is wait and see...

3 Stars

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