THE BUTTERFLY CLUB REVIEW: Fabtastix: Behind the Pearls & Trash of the Pops

Two brand new cabarets take over the stage this week at Melbourne's The Butterfly Club. Featuring three talented young performers, the shows are fun, silly, musical, bright, colourful and just a lot irreverent.
THE BUTTERFLY CLUB REVIEW: Fabtastix: Behind the Pearls & Trash of the Pops
Two brand new cabarets take over the stage this week at Melbourne's The Butterfly Club. Featuring three talented young performers, the shows are fun, silly, musical, bright, colourful and just a lot irreverent. Trash of the Pops sees the return of Garret Buffo the self-important self-professed sex-god, the creation of Melbourne performer Oliver Farrell. Buffo takes us through a series of famous eighties hit songs, performed in his own inimitable style –" as they should, he says, having been stolen from him in the eighties by the more well-known singers who made them famous. Featuring such hits as Let's Hear It For The Boy, You Spin Me Round and Love is a Battlefield, the show starts out as a camptastic cringefest –" and not much changes during the 45 minutes in the showroom. That said, Oliver is impressively committed to his character and performance, responding to an uncomfortably small audience and lack of audience participation with simply more enthusiasm. While Buffo is an amusing and eccentric character, it is a shame that he does not bring anything particularly new to the music or the rather tenuous story. That said, his performance is endearing, amusing and a bit of fun. The real jewel of The Butterfly Club this week is Fabtastix: Behind the Pearls, a collaboration between Justin Clausen and veteran musical director James Simpson that delves into the world of the overpaid and overdressed − set, perhaps appropriately, in a boutique home wares store in Brighton. Fabtastix makes use of some great recent music, including the cult hit by Kristin Chenoweth, Taylor, The Latte Boy (a particular favourite that showed off Clausen's acting ability perfectly). With much of the music rewritten and tailored for the storyline, the musical interludes are generally a slick and well-suited way of furthering the story, thankfully free from the balance issues that were evident during the dialogue. Clausen appears as various different characters during the piece, including both his bosses and several potential new junior employees. While the characters are amusing, they do tend to blur together somewhat, possibly being too similar to each other and not distinct enough to be really characters in their own right. Justin's ability to transform from one to the other is impressive, however, and should be applauded (as, indeed, it was). With all of these characters running around on stage, it is interesting that the show really came alive when the character dropped, with a story about an older woman called Mrs Stevens, and we saw what appeared to be the real Justin underneath. He shows a real talent for storytelling, with a genuine love for the tales of the people that he meets, and the song following this story was truly magical. As in much of the best cabaret, when the character drops, the real performer shines through, and the audience get to see something personal and real. Two new takes on life and love and music and song, these two new shows are fun and silly, and so wonderfully irreverent that you can't help but smile. Fabtastix: Behind the Pearls and Trash of the Pops are on now at The Butterfly Club. Web Site: www.thebutterflyclub.com Address: 204 Bank Street, South Melbourne, VIC, 3205

David Allen

Wednesday 11 March, 2009

About the author

David Allen is an editorial contributor for ArtsHub.