Babushka Cabaret: Jade Moffat, Bethan Ellsmore, Michelle Bull

Anywhere Theatre Festival 2012
Babushka Cabaret (275 Macarthur Terrace, Eagle Farm)
Duration: 60 minutes

“Murder is always a mistake. One should never do anything one can’t talk about over dinner.” To sing such tales for your supper has perfect pitch.

Dressed in funereal black with blood-red highlights, Babushka Cabaret’s soaring vocals are heard to advantage in the empty two-story warehouse at Hamilton Reach.

Scattered on the cement floor are newspaper stories of grief, anger and loss, overlaid with scattered roses and petals. Floor space is modest so there is an intimate feel in the room with no need for microphones, and the stairs leading to the second-story office at the back allow versatile staging and layering of resonance.

Backlit in red above us, Babushka sing Nick Cave’s “Where the wild roses grow”. The electric shiver continues downstairs with ensemble and solo songs of anger by (would-be) killers and grief for victims.

Occasional narration sets a new scene and a song: Gillian Barber who leaped to her death from the Story Bridge in 1996, a French morgue attendant makes a death mask of a 16 year-old girl who drowned in the Seine River (Sarah McLachlan’s “In the arms of an angel”), and the rape of Tori Amos in 1984 (“Me and a Gun” sung a capella).

The stunning ensemble highlight is “Mack the Knife”, led by guest Jade Moffat. The evening ends with unique percussive accompaniment to Greenskeepers’ “Lotion”.

Babushka was founded in 2011 by four Conservatorium-trained singers with “Soprano Identity Crisis Syndrome”. For Anywhere Fest, regulars Bethan Ellsmore and Michelle Bull are complemented by guests, Jade Moffat and Matthew Samer.

These experienced singers are a dangerous delight, although Matthew does not equal the vocal presence of the ladies. Matthew sensitively scored the tunes on piano, and Bethan’s violin gave emotional depth to others. Detracting from the performance was an unidentified industrial noise that occurred during two songs.

There were too few audience members on opening night, so seize the night!

A tip: The warehouse on Macarthur Terrace is opposite Gateway Parking; look for the Anywhere Theatre Festival banner on the footpath.

Performance seen: 10 May 2012
Review and Photo: Shirley Way

Babushka Cabaret: Bethan Ellsmore (violin, voice), Michelle Ball (voice), Jade Moffat (voice), Matthew Samer (piano, voice)
Venue: 275 Macarthur Terrace, Eagle Farm (opposite Gateway Parking)
Posted at Anywhere Theatre Festival  http://anywherefest.com/blog/2012/05/review-where-the-wild-roses-grow/