Whether it’s cheekiness, naughtiness or relentless satire, irreverence is a definite trait of cabaret.
Presented by: Melbourne Cabaret Festival
Venue: South Melbourne Town Hall
Wednesday 20 July, 2011
Whether it’s cheekiness, naughtiness or relentless satire, irreverence is a definite trait of cabaret. Luke Escombe’s show, Chronic, aims squarely at playing on this characteristic. The musical comedy is based around the character of a white, wealthy, privileged Pimp.
The concept is bold, though not necessarily original. With unambiguous Ali G tendencies the show was a spoof of the modern male desire to be a player. There is much room for the mischievous in musical comedy, and doused with dirty jokes, Escombe’s performance did not lack in this respect. Unfortunately subtlety is not the show’s finest point. With songs such as ‘Jerk Ya Coq’ and ‘Hot Bitches’ the immediate humour of such explicit and taboo themes and language was inevitably lost upon the fifth repeat of the phrases. While it had potential to be clever and witty, the overt repetition resulted in a feeling that this was a lyrical melody best suited for school boys who would chuckle over such brashness.
Similarly, a minor gripe about the show was that as a Sydneysider, a couple of Escombe’s songs were written specifically about Sydney women and some of his musings were specific to Sydney’s suburbs. Such references were a little misplaced on a Melbourne audience.
Undoubtedly Escombe is a gifted musician. His ability to carry tune while strumming the guitar or playing on his keyboard was well appreciated. It is his aptitude in this area which proves to be the strength in the show. He was expressive, charismatic and at ease when he sang. The use of multimedia was cleverly dispersed throughout the performance, and the slide shows projected behind Escombe while he sang aided the comedic value of his numbers.
Luke Escombe is a talented performer and while Chronic has areas which can be refined Escombe’s performance ability entertains. The lyrical jokes are a somewhat overcooked and from this perspective tweaking of these tunes would be to the show’s betterment. As a whole however, the performance can be enjoyed and appreciated as cheeky musical comedy.