Melbourne Cabaret Festival: The Three of Us

What happens when three performers turn up to a show each thinking they are its star? That’s the setup for The Three of Us and poses the immediate problem of how to list the cast without ruffling feathers. Niceties aside, a claim to top billing is made pretty early. However, the tensions and quality performances make this an entertaining outing.

Luke Gallagher, Rachel Dunham and Michael Dalton in "The Three of Us" (photo: Dean Arcuri)
Luke Gallagher, Rachel Dunham and Michael Dalton. Photo by Dean Arcuri

Alphabetically by surname, our cast are Michael Dalton (The Late Show with Dolly Diamond, You’ve Got Male), Rachel Dunham (Oprahfication, Rock of Ages) and Luke Gallagher (The Gospel According to Luke, Diamond & Gallagher). I hadn’t seen any of these performers, knowing only some of their recent credits. Coming in without any preconceptions, I was keen to see who would claim cabaret supremacy, and how this would be achieved.

The game seems to be over pretty quickly though as our divos are vocally outgunned by the diva. At some points I thought that song choice didn’t help the men; if you’re going to take on a big pop anthem, you’d better have the stuff to compete against the original. An alternative take on these songs might have been better able to emphasise strengths and make the struggle seem more even.

Belatedly the show seems to appreciate that the contest is highly unbalanced, as the boys decide that there’s other ways to establish superiority. This is the best idea of the show and it allows the threads of comedy and cabaret to entwine more tightly, snaring the most satisfying moments of The Three of Us. Had this asymmetric warfare come in the first act instead of after the interval, I feel the rivalries between stars would have developed even more profitably.

All stars do get their chance to shine. Dalton scored good laughs from his snide remarks against competitors and also by recognising that your rivals opting out of a challenge gives you a chance to milk what you have. Gallagher gets to play the beta male itching for a chance to step out from collaborator Dalton’s shadow and into the spotlight, and some of his scenes with Dunham in particular demonstrate the apt choice of songs from pop and musicals. I especially enjoyed the thought behind the adaptation of song lyrics to tell the characters’ stories.

The costume changes bring glitz and glamour, and the tight four-piece band delivered great tunes, having some grooving in their seats. The Three of Us is light and fluffy fun to kick off Melbourne Cab Fest 2014 in great style.


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