The queue to get into the Spiegeltent for this popular Sydney Festival adventure was well established 30 minutes before we were to see our seats for Little Match Girl: typical scene of Sydneyites drinking and being social on a warmish summer night, but all eager to pay homage to the current reigning Sydney showgirl.
You know the setup inside the Famous Spiegeltent but this time it’s enhanced by the most fabulous, huge, sparkling chandelier I’ve seen. The only accessory this showgirl would need, along with the customary Sydney showgirl red sequin dress. Were soon off and running with everything, showgirl, band and staging all turned to full-on.
We learn that this show is inspired both by Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of a girl desperately selling matches to buy food and a documentary about Oasis the Salvation Army Sydney-based shelter for homeless people. The nexus between these two becomes at times emotional and dark – its clever sophisticated stuff to have with a few champagnes for sure.
Things are so full-on with Cole Porter’s It’s Too Darn Hot that the power in the Spiegeltent is blown and a full house finds itself in darkness, lucky for us our hostess still has sound. What followed was some very clever hilarious audience participation involving a search through the whole tent for those punters with the touch iphone app, and securing unprepared volunteers to hold handheld torches to light the ensuing chaos, before the arrival of the bicycle riding Mitchell Butel, which in turn was used to run a generator to light the stage. Meow Meow directing everyone what to do, but in such a quick witted style that the volunteers are all made to feel they’ve saved the day and seem to lap up the fun.
Mitchell Butel turns out to be Meow Meow‘s stalker and is the perfect foil and partner in moving the tread along. They almost stop the show with a wonderful reworking of Noel Coward’s What’s Going to Happen to the Tots to the crowds delight on this evening. Both performers having the vocal chops to give the whole experience the charm and class this piece stinks of.
There are some great choices of material in this piece but none more moving and poignant than those written by Meow Mow and her collaborator and musical director Iain Grandage, Tear Down the Stars particularly did it for me. Then tying the whole evening together and leaving us with something to ponder on the way home the lovely song Be Careful by Patty Griffin “Be careful how you bend me, Be careful where you send me, Careful how you end me, Be careful with me”.
We’re so lucky to have an artist like this as one of our own (WAAPA), a brave creative soul with something worthwhile to tell us – careful with her indeed!