Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director; produced playwright (21 plays). Scripts pub. Currency Press. She worked as actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate was Head of Drama/Teacher, NMIT; Coordinator of Prof. Writing/ Editing, Swinburne Uni. Read her reviews here or: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Sunday, 22 June 2014
Matthew Mitcham in Twists and Turns, June 20, 2014 ***
By Matthew Mitcham, Nigel Turner-Carroll & script by Spanky Melbourne Cabaret Festival Chapel off Chapel, June 20,
21 & 22, 2014 only Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars: ***
Review also published in Herald Sun on line on Mon 23 June, 2014 and later in print. KH
Olympic gold medallist, Matthew
Mitcham’s autobiographical cabaret show relies primarily on Mitcham’s celebrity
and his intimate confessions, rather than on his musical ability.
Twists and Turns is a
peculiar hybrid of styles and content that incorporates quirky, old-fashioned
tunes with pop songs, combines ukulele with piano, and accompanies Mitcham’s
personal revelations with a very weird alter ego wearing drag (cabaret icon, Spanky).
Directed by Nigel
Turner-Carroll with a script by Spanky, the show is based on Mitcham’s tell-all
autobiography that maps the trajectory of his diving career, his coming out as
a gay athlete, and the crippling self-doubt, depression and drug abuse that
Although, initially his
performance looks awkward, Mitcham’s ebullient personality charms the audience
that clearly identifies with his stories.
The structure of the show
is linear and unimaginative, with dialogue that is often over-written and,
particularly in the early scenes, littered with tacky, sexual innuendo and
adolescent gags about toilet paper.
The big distraction in
the show is the constant, unnecessary presence of the weirdly grinning Spanky
playing Mitcham’s multiple companions: a childlike, invisible friend, the black
dog of depression and the looming presence of drug addiction.
Jeremy Brennan’s musical
direction and skilful piano playing are the most successful cabaret elements in
this production and Mitcham’s singing is appealing, although not world class
like his diving.
The pop tunes that
Mitcham sings to echo his story include Perfect (Alanis Morissette), Shiny
Disco Balls (Who Da Funk) and True Faith (New Order).
By the end, Mitcham
abandons the parodic style and his stories become more serious, ending with the
poignant tale of his drug rehab and the heartening news of his upcoming
participation in the Commonwealth Games.
His songs become more engaging
in the latter half, when he sings Little Water Song (Nick Cave) while seeming
to float eerily under water, continues with Go Or Go Ahead (Rufus Wainwright), and
finishes with the rousing You Get What You Give (New Radicals).
One cannot overestimate
the desire of an audience to witness a car crash and see the victim emerge hale
and hearty to carry on with a roaringly successful career and personal life.
Matthew Mitcham, 2008
Olympic Gold Medallist, OAM and recovering drug addict, gives an audience
plenty of crashing and burning stories and leaves them cheering for him to
By Kate Herbert
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