REVIEW: Bethany Simons in RECEPTION

Witty and winning cabaret

By Myron My

Two-time Green Room Award-nominated writer/performer Bethany Simons is back on stage with her comedy cabaret Reception, in which she recalls some of the more interesting and memorable moments of her job as a receptionist at the Australian National Academy of Music.

Simons’ caricatures of the different customers, co-workers and people she comes across at work are brilliant, with ‘Gillian’ in particular being just hilarious. The brisk flow of plays on words and other puns is very clever, and laughs constantly filled the room in response to Simon’s witticisms.


There are a number of memorable songs throughout Reception, but the one that received most laughs – and my favourite – was the rap song, “I Can’t Help But Help”. The fabulous lyrics, along with its simple choreography and Simons’ hysterical facial expressions made it a definite crowd pleaser. Show opener “My Name is Bethany”, and “They Ring My Bell” also showcased Simons’ talent as an impressive all-round cabaret performer. My only quibble would be that her voice needed more volume at times during the songs, as there were moments when she was more audible speaking rather than singing.

Accompanying Simons on piano is Peter de Jager, whom she fortuitously met whilst working at the Australian National Academy of Music. A highly established and talented pianist, de Jager’s skills more than shine through with the variety of songs played.

As funny as Reception is, it is also a little frightening how much I was personally able to relate to Simons’ anecdotes and experiences from working in administration for an arts organisation: the constant mishearing of her name resulting in such variations as Destiny, Stephanie and Melody (Byron, Brian and Simon for me), the hazards of the “reply all” button (been there, done that), and the cursed affliction of “type fright”. Her stories are both striking and familiar, and I certainly could empathise.

Reception should definitely sit on your latest list of cabaret shows to see, especially if you want to be completely entertained by interesting stories, clever writing, great songs and lots of laughs – and who wouldn’t?

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 256 Collins St (entry via Carson Place), Melbourne
Season: Until 4 May | Tues, Wed, Sun 8pm | Thurs, Fri, Sat 9pm.
Tickets: $25 Full | $22 Conc