The Butterfly Club, South Melbourne, closed the first week of the Melbourne Fringe Festival with the opening night of The Butcher Shop Revue, presenting the best performers they have to offer. The acts change depending on the night, which makes it the best way to sample the incredibly diverse range of cabaret, burlesque and vaudeville performers that Melbourne has to offer.
With a Black Forest Cake cocktail in my hand, I settled in for the show as our host, Dirk Hoult, sang an improvised song about waiting for the guy in the toilet (who just happened to be my date). Dirk was the real star of the show, dressed up in pearls and a captain’s hat, carrying us through the night with his hilariously disturbed sense of humour – the moment that sticks out most clearly for me is his German-accented jokes about molestation (don’t ask – it was definitely funny in context!)
Opening night of the Revue featured seven acts, each of them with their own unique talents keeping spirits high in the front room. Adelaide Everheart got her audience in the mood, kicking the evening off with her seductive burlesque act, slowly undressing to reveal an unexpected surprise under her veil.
Benny ‘Mama Alto’ Dimas set the bar high with a selection of numbers from his show Porgy and Bess Project. His bewitching countertenor was perfectly controlled, and he dominated the stage as gold sequins dripped from his outfit. His rendition of ‘I Loves Ya Porgy’ nearly had me in tears – until Dirk Hoult jumped back on stage with a dramatic eating of a banana, before introducing the next act.
Sarah Gaul, of solo act My Piano and Me which closed last week, shared what she called private songs for a very public audience: complaints about vegans (‘eating chicken foetuses to me is like watching child porn’) and misuses of feminism (‘you’re just like us but with tits and a baseless sense of inferiority’); with witty lyrics, a neurotic stage presence and a straight face she brought out the humour in everyday banalities.
The Oddities treated us to a bit of vaudeville, Miss Lulu’s vocals repeatedly upstaged by the physical comedy of her assistant – a bedraggled man who’d crawled up from the audience equipped with a cane and violin case.
After an interval, the night continued with Michael Connell ( Michael Connell’s Digital Comedy Tour ), with a stand-up routine centred around his Arts degree, ‘hypothetical cola’, his Angelina Jolie lips and the origins of the harmonica, he had the audience in stitches.
Minnie Andrews’ set – which included a cabaret version of a Snoop Dogg’s ‘Gin & Juice’ – finished with ‘Your Heart Is As Black As Night’, with Adelaide Everheart making a reappearance in black lingerie.
Finishing up the night was Wimbo, the masochistic clown, who entered from the back of the audience with a balloon and a tray of broken bottles – which, without flinching, he performed a headstand on, and lay down on his belly as Adelaide Everheart stood on him in her stilettos.
Dirk Hoult stole the limelight one last time with ‘I Am The Walrus’, which seemed much better suited to his cabaret stylings.
I thoroughly enjoyed my night at The Butterfly Club, and wish I could fit each of the Fringe performers into my schedule. If you haven’t seen cabaret before, I strongly recommend getting a taste with The Butcher Shop Revue – and for those who are familiar, don’t miss out on the best Melbourne’s Butterfly Club has to offer!
Benny ‘Mama Alto’ Dimas’ Porgy and Bess Project is closing with a sold out performance tonight, 30 September at 8pm.
Michael Connell’s Digital Comedy Tour closes tonight, 30 September at 6pm.