Tag: Emma Clair Ford

REVIEW: Bradley Storer in TRICKSTER

Deliciously dark

By Narelle Wood

Trickster is a cabaret stripped down and redressed to reveal the sinister side of the musical genre.


Performed by Bradley Storer, the show begins in the shadows with a great rendition of Kate Bush’s “Babushka”, and then briefly hovers around the expected with some songs and jokes about sex. But just when I thought it was going to be a show based on easy laughs, Storer plunges head-first into the darkness of a number of insensitive topics. There are a few haunting arrangements of some popular songs to drive the insensitivities home: pop songs with a happy-go-lucky vibe all of a sudden take on an entirely new, and extremely menacing, meaning.

The song selection is a fascinating mix, from Aqua to Rage Against the Machine, with a brilliant mash up of Guns ‘N’ Roses and Judy Garland. Under the direction of Emma Clair Ford, Storer delivers some must-see moments; a tap dance that words could not possible describe and an execution of a Dresden Dolls ‘classic’ that borders on the sociopathic.

There are tasteless jokes touching on a whole range on taboo topics, but Storer seems to have found the line between funny and offensive, often acknowledging that he is pushing the boundaries of socially acceptable comedy. Some of the funniest moments come from Storer’s self-deprecating humour where he unabashedly voices what everybody is probably thinking. This, coupled with Storer’s interaction with the audience, makes the show charming despite the disturbing and sometimes ominous topics of choice.

Trevor Jones, the accompanist, provides a stellar performance on the piano, adding more to the show than the instrumental. Jones’ interactions with Storer, along with the lighting (provided on the night by Sam Duncan), work together to alter the mood of the show, sometimes instantaneously. There was one point that the lighting of Storer’s pale made-up skin was so eerie that we could have been watching a dead man singing on stage

While the show purports to be a ‘dark-indie cabaret’, it is so much more; it’s also very funny and strangely cathartic. If you have an hour to spare, go indulge the more disturbed parts of your sense of humour and see Trickster.

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne
Season: 8.30pm Until 7th Feb
Tickets: $32 Full | $28 Conc
Bookings: www.thebutterflyclub.com

REVIEW: Melbourne Cabaret Festival Presents I, DIVINE

Ambitious and exquisite art

By Bradley Storer

Out of the darkness in the Kew Court House came a delicate and lustrous four-part choral song, a ravishingly beautiful and mysterious ode that instantly enchanted the audience and transported us into the enigmatic world created by composer Caity Fowler and collaborator Emma Clair Ford in their new work, I, Divine. Two seemingly disparate figures, an ancient Grecian demi-goddess and a modern cyber-nerd, are drawn together through the medium of an internet chat room and forced to grapple with timeless ideas of fate, identity and the struggle to create your own destiny.

I Divine

The piece is less like traditional cabaret and more of an experimental chamber musical written for four voices (two unnamed singers sit side of stage and contribute further vocals to Fowler’s compositions). Fowler’s entirely a capella score is wonderfully wispy, throbbingly earthy, and exquisitely fluid as needed, the four voices combining and layering in continuously exciting ways.

Ford as the demi-goddess Otrera, a lost woman in search of meaning to her existence, is poised and graceful whilst being entirely charming, her wonderful singing voice remaining grounded and solid throughout. Fowler’s cross-gender turn as the nerdy Brett exquisitely captures the outward shell of adolescent obnoxiousness that the no longer-adolescent Brett has never really outgrown, softening slowly to reveal the pain and fear that prevent him from maturing. Her lighter, more delicate vocal tone gorgeously combines with Ford in several of the show’s songs.

I, Divine skilfully intertwines Brett’s comic book stories with the ancient myths of Otrera’s upbringing to reveal the threads of the meta-narrative, the archetypal hero’s journey, in both their own tales and the show itself. One of the great joys of the piece is slowly watching the two characters, who seem to be the most dissimilar people in the world, realise their own similarities – captured beautifully in one duet comparing the Grecian goddess Artemis to a high school physics teacher.

This wonderfully ambitious work deploys a fantastically original premise that, although could have run thin eventually, never overreaches or overstays its welcome. I, Divine gently explores the human drive for self-determination and meaning, ending with the optimistic and uplifting message that change and triumph over adversity is always possible, but only if a person is willing to fight for it.

Venue: Kew Court House, 188 High St, Kew
Dates: Thursday 26 to Sunday 29 June
Time: 7.00pm
Duration: 60 minutes approx
Ticket prices: $30, $27 conc, $24 ‘Friends of the Festival’ card ($5 extra on the door)
Booking: http://www.melbournecabaret.com, http://www.hawthornartscentre.com.au or at the door.

Review: EMMA CLAIR FORD in Butterscotch

“Fall down seven times, get up eight”

By Maxine Montgomery

The quotation is a good motto we should all take into life, and one that Emma Clair Ford has taken to heart in writing her latest solo cabaret work, Butterscotch.

At the top of the show, Ms Ford entered the show room of the Butterfly Club with a great deal of poise and a dash of mystery, silently stalking down the centre aisle towards the intimate stage.

With her entrance, she created a mood of intrigue and simplicity all at once. She gave away nothing and kept the audience fully engaged as she took us on a journey, on “an adventure within an adventure”.

Ms Ford has crafted a very clever and well-structured script, and at all times, she was in control of its pace and delivery. Her careful choice of words painted very vivid pictures of childhood memories, tales of an oft-broken heart, and time in foreign lands.

I very much enjoyed her repeated use of one scenario, presented in two entirely different veins, to bookend a climactic moment of the show.

The music Ms Ford has chosen throughout the cabaret is so well matched to the progression of the through line that the songs could have been purpose written for the show.  Myself, I will never again be able to listen to “Six Months in a Leaky Boat” in quite the same way!

Emma Clair’s voice is clear, well controlled, and most adaptable in handling the music of the show. Her versatility extends from a music theatre belt to a sweet, pure tone which she introduced as she sang “Vieni a mia diletto” (Come, my delight) – the song was a perfect choice as she told of her desire to visit Juliet’s famous balcony in Verona.

Butterscotch is a unique cabaret, expertly created and delivered. Ms Ford deserves every success as she takes this show across to the 2012 Adelaide Cabaret Fringe Festival this month.

The second and final Melbourne preview is on Wednesday February 22nd at 8pm at the Butterfly Club in South Melbourne, but look out for details of another Melbourne season later in the year.

For tickets, please visit http://thebutterflyclub.com

Submissions Now Open For SHORT+SWEET CABARET 2011

So… what can you do with ten minutes?

This month marks the annual return of one of the most exciting and challenging cabaret opportunities Melbourne has to offer, as submissions open for this year’s Short+Sweet Cabaret.

The ‘biggest little play festival in the world’ also includes theatre, dance and song programs, but Short+Sweet Cabaret has proven to be a particularly creative and invigorating development for the festival in Melbourne.

As the festival’s name suggests, successful applicants only have ten minutes in which to perform their cabaret piece and showcase their talents.

Whether it’s burlesque or vaudeville, hilariously comic or thrillingly creepy, New York-style or cabaret noir, festival director Emma Clair Ford (herself an accomplished and award-winning Melbourne cabaret artist) is welcoming submissions in any cabaret form. 

Short+Sweet Cabaret Festival 2011 will be held at Chapel Off Chapel in Prahran from October 26th to November 6th.

The festival functions as a platform for artists to present new, emerging and recent works to both industry professionals and an enthusiastic audience, and Ford has revealed that she is particularly looking for ‘fresh and well thought-out ideas’.

Porcelin Punch: Photo by Rebecca Humphries

There are not only the judges’ and people’s choice awards to be won, but Short+Sweet is also an invaluable chance to gain significant recognition and explore further networking and performance possibilities.

Previous festival winners and participants have included Porcelin Punch Travelling Medicine Show (pictured), song-writer and comedian Geraldine Quinn, Chants Des Catecombes’ Anna Boulic, Hannah Williams as Mercedes Benz and The Jane Austen Argument‘s Tom Dickins.

To enter a submission:

  • Simply email a 100 word or less description of your proposed 10-minute cabaret concept to emma@shortandsweet.org
  • Include your name, phone number, cast and creative team, and a list of any props, technical and musical requirements.

Submissions close on Friday September 9th 2011.

For more information please visit www.shortandsweet.org

Fringe Festival: Return of PRICE OF GENIUS & Other Gems

‘An absolute entrée into a very different world. Definitely worth seeing!’ – Julie Houghton 3MBS

In an era of Beethoven’s music and Shelley’s poetry, and a time of great upheaval and revolt, Mary Wollstonecraft changed the world forever when she wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Women.  

She married an anarchist, demanded sexual equality, and gave birth to both feminism and the famous Mary Shelley who wrote Frankenstein.

But …

Mary Wollstonecraft had another daughter.

This is her story.

In its repeat season, The Price of Genius is an emotionally charged and technically adept piece of theatre.  

Originally written and performed in 2009, it marked the 250th anniversary of Mary Wollstonecraft’s death and celebrated her colourful life and revolutionary work.  

The show’s initial reception confirmed a broad appeal for audiences – from Regency period and literary enthusiasts interested in the history of Wollstonecraft and the upheaval of the French Revolution, to feminists, educators, romantics, tragedians and, of course, musicians.  

There is an intensity in both dialogue and music, with the fascinating and unique story-telling experience of hearing new lyrics set to Beethoven’s lieder songs.

A two-hundred year old secret is finally revealed on stage…

Featuring Ilsa Cook
Accompanied by Katherine Gillon
Directed by Kim Edwards
Book and Lyrics by Sally Collyer
Music by Ludwig van Beethoven

Venue: The Butterfly Club
Dates: 23-26 September: Thur-Sat 7pm, Sun 6pm
Duration: 60 mins
Tickets: Conc $17.00, Full $22.00, Group $17.00
Bookings: 03 9660 9666, www.thebutterflyclub.com or www.melbournefringe.com.au


Some Other Fringe Favourites…

Cabaret Course graduate Tom Dickins presents his mesmerising new show THE SPACES BETWEEN as part of The Jane Austen Argument: an indie-noir cabaret experience… Book Now

Short+Sweet Festival Director Emma Clair Ford will be exploring the dark and comic side of the human psyche with LILA GREY: Book Now

THROUGH THE MAGNIFYING GLASS marks the return of our hilarious, bizarro favourite Kitty Bang as she romps through a new cabaret extravaganza of choreographed madness!   Book Now

Bring on the sadistic soap-opera: see cabaret course graduate Natalie Ristovska weave her magic at the Burlesque Bar with a return season of ATROCITY… Book Now

SHORT+SWEET CABARET: Submissions Now Open

Want to be part of the world’s most successful showcase event?!


The 2010 Short+Sweet Cabaret Festival is now welcoming submissions – and a new festival director!  

Emma Clair Ford, herself an experienced cabaret artist, creator and curator, is proud to be taking on the challenging role: “I’m thrilled to be onboard as Festival Director in 2010, and can’t wait to see what this year’s applicants have in store.”

Outgoing Festival Director David Read started Short+Sweet Cabaret with Short+Sweet founder Mark Cleary in 2008, and explains, “I’m proud of leaving the Festival in a safe pair of hands with Emma and look forward to experiencing the new level of excitement and creativity she will bring to the Festival.”

Short+Sweet Cabaret Festival is a unique performance experience for Melbourne artists.   Successful applicants are invited to perform a 10-minute cabaret piece  at Chapel Off Chapel in Prahran from Thursday 18 to Sunday 28 November 2010.  



With judges’ prizes and people’s choice awards, this is a wonderful opportunity to showcase new and innovative work in a supportive and inspiring environment, reach a wide and eclectic audience, and network and strengthen our remarkable cabaret community.




To enter a submission, simply email a 100 word or less description of your 10-minute cabaret concept to emma@shortandsweet.org together with your name, telephone number and a list of any props, technical and musical accompaniment requirements.

Great prizes can be won and costs such as venue hire, technicians, ticketing, marketing and publicity are covered.

Individuals or groups can apply.

But what kind of cabaret concept can you offer for the festival?   Emma says, “I encourage all forms of cabaret to apply and am particularly looking for fresh but well thought-out ideas.”

Check it out on Facebook: Short+Sweet Cabaret


Submissions close on Tuesday September 14th