Adelaide Cabaret Festival – Amy Housewine: Back to Crack

Lisa Adam as Amy Housewine. Photo by Anthony Gattari
Lisa Adam as Amy Housewine. Photo by Anthony Gattari

Amy Winehouse is never far from the headlines but almost exclusively for the wrong reasons. Just last week she was booed off stage in Serbia while performing heavily under the influence – she thought she was in Greece… Winehouse’s car-wreck of a life, while tragically self-inflicted, is keeping tabloid magazines afloat and the Australian cabaret scene as entertaining as ever.

Lisa Adam, as Amy Housewine in Amy Housewine: Back to Crack, hilariously satirises the life and career of British “personality”, Amy Winehouse.

Even before the first note was sung, it was clear that this show was going to be a hell of a ride. A pre-concert binge and crude off stage conversations (unaware her microphone was live) preceded Housewine stumbling through the crowd and downing a unique this-and-that cocktail compiled from audience’s drinks. The shock-factor was then in overdrive for the ensuing hour.

Lisa Adam and co-writer Trevor Ashley have superbly tread a very thin line between hilarity and bad taste (ok, perhaps occasionally they crossed it). The controversial subject matter – literally sex, drugs and rock and roll (but not in that order) – could easily have become tiresome if not for the exceptional variations between song, stand-up comedy, audience participation and onstage drinking and drugs (tequila shots, bourbon, red wine and pills to name a few!)

Housewine’s voice is the real deal. She reworked versions of a number of hit songs (always with a twist towards drugs) and showcased some new creations, like ‘If I Only Had Cocaine’ (Wizard Of Ozfans be warned). Renditions of ‘You Know I’m No Good’ and ‘Back to Black’ enhanced the story with little to no lyric modification required, and after every number the audience was always in rapturous applause.

In stark contrast to the rest of the show was Housewine’s deeply introspective rendition of Billy Field’s ‘Bad Habits’, which had pockets of the audience and the star herself shedding a tear. The emotional rollercoaster then reached another peak with the sidesplitting tale of her greatest night out – where the Royal Family and every British celebrity copped a battering (who knew Dame Judi Dench was such a party animal!)

The drinking song ‘I Love To Have A Drink With Amy’ was a resounding highlight, featuring audience participation managed with expertise. Her three-piece ensemble was musically faultless, and the pianist featured heavily – almost a character in his own right. The band’s payment – pills – was ironically provided prior to the much-anticipated finale – ‘Rehab’.

While probably not everyone’s cup of tea, Amy Housewine: Back To Crack was extremely well received at the Banquet Room at Adelaide Festival Centre. Suitable for audiences over 18 years, the show contains frequent coarse language, drinking, drug use and paraphernalia.
Amy Housewine admitted that it was impossible to resist visiting the Adelaide Cabaret Festival – she was intrigued by the ‘hash-cloud’ hanging over the city. She may have a problem with ‘Class A substances’ – but fortunately for Adelaide audiences, her habit has produced the inspiration for some Class ‘A’ Cabaret.

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