Adelaide Cabaret Festival – Oz Rockin’ The Ladies Lounge

Christa Hughes. Photo by Kelly Ann Denton
Christa Hughes. Photo by Kelly Ann Denton

Have you ever been at a party and everyone is drunk except for you? You go along with the fun and you don’t want your sober demeanor to bring the party down, but you just don’t get the joke?

Christa Hughes has an extensive music career as a solo performer, daughter of pianist Dick Hughes and ex-band member of Machine Gun Fellatio.

The premise of this show is a rock-chic re-imaging of Australian covers and the highly lubricated and vocal audience lapped it up and responded with loud hilarity.

With vocal hints of Chrissy Amphlett, Hughes struts about the stage belting out hit after hit, many of which would grace some of the most well attended karaoke bars in Adelaide.

The cover of Kylie Minogue songs to the tune of Nick Cave’s Red Right Hand worked for the most part and was one of the more clever sections of the show. But most of the show was essentially “cabaret for bogans” and the audience wore the stereotype proudly or were oblivious . . . it was hard to tell.

Often I thought perhaps Hughes was in on the joke and taking the piss, but actually I think perhaps she just was pissed.  Some of it just didn’t make sense – not quite sure why a carrot was grated on stage – some of it was just a salacious attempt at being the rebel and “f***king with the cabaret c***s” – think titty show behind a see-through sequined Aboriginal flag and you’ll get some idea where to start.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with entertainment for a wide range of audiences and everyone is welcome at the Cabaret Festival. We know the definition of cabaret is a movable feast, but I had to question why this show was even programmed in the Festival and not just an act for the pub scene. As the show progressed and it became clear that it wasn’t a piss-take but actually a genuine attempt at entertainment, the excessive swearing (I usually have a VERY high tolerance of these things), drinking beer and goon and uninformed commentary (Gina Reinhardt’s opinions on importing workers being randomly thrown in was a particularly weird moment) became more embarrassing than entertaining.

At the end of the day, this show has sold tickets and a portion of the audience obviously lapped it up. The quality of the performance was not bad. Hughes can sing well, she can entertain and the band were all talented musos. But surely the Adelaide Cabaret Festival has a bit more class? That might make me a snob, but I shouldn’t feel the need to be drunk to enjoy a show and it was a sad reminder of the less appealing side of Australian culture.

Hayley Horton

Hayley was an arts worker in South Australia for twelve years working freelance for small to medium clients as well as for companies such as the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, State Theatre Company SA, Urban Myth Theatre of Youth and the Australia Business Arts Foundation. As part of her freelance work, Hayley founded the ATG Curtain Call Awards (which is now an annual gala event), co-produced three 24 Hour Show charity fundraiser events, has judged for the Adelaide Fringe Festival and reviewed for Aussie Theatre and the Adelaide Theatre Guide. Hayley now runs a boutique events and arts management business, Footlight Events and in her spare time, is involved with Adelaide’s amateur theatre community as a producer, performer and director.

Hayley Horton

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