Tag: The Butterfly Club

Review: Amore e Morte

Reminiscent of a film noir

By Sebastian Purcell

Amore e Morte tells the story of a couples witness to a murder, fleeing their home and seeking refuge in a strange new place. While safe for a time until they are called back to the home land. He testifies while she records his tale as an expose. The musical is performed by the dynamic duo, Nikki Elli Souvertijs and Italian instrumentalist Riccardo Barone.

Barone’s music is complex, beautiful, emotional and soaring in equal parts. Most impressive is the entire 60 minutes performed without sheet music. In addition the performance of the Melodica while playing the piano together was worth viewing in its own right.

Souvertijs soars with a big clear Broadway voice, which is sometimes overwhelming in the smaller venue of the Butterfly Club. The softer notes in the show, resonates more on a dramatic and emotional level, however, overall there are too few of these moments. Because of this I felt as thought the show didn’t provide enough light and shade, especially given the tale it was trying to tell. That been said, Souvertjis clearly demonstrates that she is multi-dimensional conveying the story through both song, costume and minimalist acting that was reminiscent of a film noir.

Throughout the production a type writer is used as prop for Souvertjis’s character to write about the couples trials and tribulations, but it also serves as a wonderful accompaniment to the piano. The timing and use was creative and experimental, and one of the highlights of the show.

The production was smooth, lighting design simple but effective, and the sound was clear, but I did think that it might be too amplified for the venue. This is a no gloss, no glam production, and very befitting a story of love and loss.

Amore e Morte was performed at the Butterfly Club, Melbourne.


Fantastically fresh and funny

By Leeor Adar

Ruby Hughes’ alte-ego Ophelia Sol has graced audiences since 2014’s FR!SK Festival. Hughes, a VCA theatre graduate, and recent Green-Room nominee for her performance in Zoey Dawson’s Conviction, is one very capable performer.

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The outlandish persona of Ophelia Sol makes a glittery stand in this year’s one-woman-wonder of a show, The Birth of the Unicorn Mermaid. Performed in the depths of The Butterfly Club, the show finds a perfect home amongst the mirrors and dolls. Everything is pink – absolutely everything – from the pink zip-onesie, to the baby clothes assembled upon the washing line. Perfect domesticity with a touch of fabulosity – after all, Ophelia Sol only wheels and deals in fabulous ways.

And this is Hughes’ overarching point of concern. In the interests of making the perfect child, the pursuit of strange medicinals and even stranger eating habits (glitter for brunch anyone?) to foster the unnatural wonder of a unicorn mermaid, the show is a fantastic farce on motherhood and the wannabe status of ‘yummy mummy’. Ophelia directs her attentions to the audience as if they are old friends in her game of one-upmanship at her baby shower. This is an artful nod to the obsession of putting oneself on show for strangers, whether on Instagram, or to the women who cohabit parenting spaces without the least interest in having a real conversation about motherhood with one another. Everyone is perfect, no time for anything less.

The show then rises to a darker and more poignant place where the unicorn mermaid baby does not arrive in this world as Ophelia expected. The monologue delivered is a testament to the heartaches and triumphs of motherhood. We later meet unicorn mermaid baby as a furry adult (‘cause women have body hair if you weren’t following), and she struggles with her place in her world and the relationship with her mother. Will perfectionism take hold of her? Perhaps, we wonder, as we exit the theatre through a fabric vagina.

Hughes’ show is a laugh-out-loud delight with some fantastic lines, dance numbers and even some puppetry. It’s incredibly well put-together and thought-out, and a definite nod must therefore be made to Hughes’ dramaturges, Candace Miles and Anna Kennedy. The performances managed to make myself and my companion sit back and think about motherhood and the impact of post-modern life on this journey. Will I be instagramming my baby? Probably not, if I choose to grace this world with one. But that’s the beauty of it – it’s my choice.

The Birth of the Unicorn Mermaid was performed at The Butterfly Club from 25 September – 1 October 2017. You can check out the Ophelia Sol insta here for latest shows and select photography: https://www.instagram.com/opheliasol/

The Butterfly Club Presents SALTY

Happily grotesque and gruesome

By Jessica Cornish

A Rolex, a pearl necklace and a bottle of what might be blood – triggering early shock and surprise for the audience set the tone for this promising production. Salty is both a series of three horror-comedy sketches based on Malay- Singaporian mythology, and a good night out in the CBD.


Salty was created by award winning Melbourne Fringe cabaret artist Shannan Lim, supported by performers Tye Norman and Jayde Harding, and together the trio spin tales of debauchery and terror. Lim in particularly has an amazing ability to flip from moments of the mundane into a fiery physical performance oozing with rage and distress, which was an impressive feat to witness.

The performance cleverly used a series of visual projections to support the changing narrative and pre-recorded voice-overs to build on the characters. The scene transitions were well-executed whereby each change-over itself was turned in to a featured event that was enjoyable to watch. There was even an unexpected dance routine thrown into the mix, which was one of my favourite moments of the evening.

As the show progressed, the three seemingly separate sketches all cleverly weaved into one another, and piece by piece the story slowly falls into place. The ensuing plot-line was absurd and interesting, and there were moments of raw humour that caught audience members satisfyingly off-guard.

However, on the night I attended, there were also moments that seemed to fall quite flat, and there were awkward pauses that left an air of discomfort in the room. Moreover, crude language and strong sexual themes are abundant, so if you’re not into graphic descriptions of dominant men describing their sexual conquests and sexual innuendo, maybe give this one a miss. That said, if you are into the absurd, love a good horror tale, and want to see something pretty quirky, this might be the show for you.

Salty is being performed at The Butterfly Club, Carson Place, CBD every night until Sunday 30th of July at 8:30pm.

Full Price: $32

Concession: $28

Group booking:$25

Phone: 03 9663 8107

Bookings: https://sa2.seatadvisor.com/sabo/servlets/TicketRequest?eventId=100903998&presenter=AUTBCT&venue=&event=&version=

Jenny Wynters is FULLY MADE UP

Comedy cabaret off the cuff and on a roll

By Jessica Cornish

Welcome to a twilight zone: saddle up and grab your favourite flaccid, furry, stretchy squid for one hour of random and ridiculous improvised musical comedy. Fully Made Up is an improvised cabaret performance entirely based on suggestions written from audience members prior to the show.

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The cabaret presumably follows the same core story every performance in following the life of a mystery lady (in our performance she was known as Glenda from Toowoomba), covered in red plastic diamantes and flowing grey curls, living in a yet-to-be-determined location, and on a quest to secure a lead role on Broadway. After many trials and tribulations our leading lady of the evening scores her long-awaited dream job, only to find it’s not all she imagined it would be…

The evening began with a disclaimer from the talented and animated pianist Greg Munrow purported to lower our expectations: but of course unnecessarily so. Veteran comedian Jenny Wynter’s continuous quick wit was able to transform abstract themes and suggestions adroitly into a discernable and hilarious narrative.

The cabaret also featured guest artists: Pasquale played the part of the Glenda’s daughter performing poetry, but unfortunately the duo were not successful in conjuring up some witty words and rhymes under the pressure of our particular evening’s performance. However, Wynter’s male guest Rik Brown featured in one song and here the impro worked like a charm, as the pair were able to skillfully and spontaneously create a one-hit wonder song ‘Bring It On’ which had the audience in hysterics.

Fully Made Up was incredibly funny and Wynter continued to weave in reference material mentioned earlier in the evening to tie the performance satisfyingly together. It was impossible not to be drawn in as we waited to see if the next suggestion from the up-turned black hat would in fact be ours!

I laughed all night and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I can’t think of a better way to spend a cold drizzly night In Melbourne, so grab your ticket before Fully Made Up is packed up for this season.

When: Wednesday 5th of July- Sunday 9th of July, 8:30pm every night!

Where: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, CBD

Cost:$28 (concession) and $32 (full)

Bookings: 03 9663 8107 or https://thebutterflyclub.com/shows or at the Box Office.

Roulston and Young Present SONGS FOR LOVERS (AND OTHER IDIOTS)

Fantastically funny

By Bradley Storer

British cabaret stalwarts Michael Roulston and Sarah-Louise Young bring their acclaimed song-writing prowess to Melbourne audiences in their fluffy but barbed presentation Songs for Lovers (And Other Idiots).

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The two performers have a wonderful playful chemistry, bouncing off each other and interacting with the audience to create a delightful and fun atmosphere from the very start. Young is a joyful and radiant performer, taking the lead on most songs with her crystalline soprano and is equally compelling when she is lusting after a (fictionalized) younger man as she is playing the character of a divorcee struggling to overcome her loss. Roulston is her Puck-like and mischievous counterpart, quick with an incisive comeback and an arched eyebrow to the audience, providing harmonies, counter-pointing and even taking over for a song where he has to admit to a shameful secret that I won’t reveal here (Hint: it involves Enya).

The pair have composed an hilarious collection of tunes that tackle both their own relationship and the many facets of modern dating and love, ranging from the straight girl/gay man dynamic, the difficulties of dating in middle age, the joys of contented singledom, even an epic ‘walk of shame’ more calamitous than The Odyssey. One particular song involving children was so funny and irreverent the audience (including this reviewer) were falling in the aisles laughing!

As the duo regaled the audience with their own tales of love and embarrassment, you could see many attendees nodding their heads in recognition – I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t see themselves, even in a small way, reflected in this comedic collection.

Lovers of original song-writing, lovers of cabaret comedy – heck, lovers in general will adore this show, so get in and see this delightful duo!

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne VIC 3000

Dates: Wed 21st – Sun 25th June

Time: 8:30pm

Prices: $32 Full, Concession $28, Members $26, Groups (6+) $25

Bookings: thebutterflyclub.com, or at the venue

Dusty Limits in GRIN

Suave and satirical cabaret charm

By Bradley Storer

Announced onstage by accompanist and co-composer Michael Roulston, Australian-born cabaret performer Dusty Limits burst onstage, suited in black with a hint of feathers, and charmingly commanded the audience from his first moment with clear expertise. Beginning with the cheerily negative ‘Is It Too Late?’, Dusty walked us through the back-catalogue of his songwriting with Roulston, interspersed with witty asides and remarks about the state of the modern world.

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One of the foremost performers in the European-Weimar cabaret tradition, Dusty was utterly charming and charismatic throughout the entire show, utilizing his crisp diction, a clear delectation for words and a warm and beautiful lower register to maximum effect, as well as a few well-placed and stunning high notes that thrilled with their power. The socially-critical aspect of Weimar cabaret was heavily present, with topics covered in the show included the hypocrisy of religious leaders, the ‘problems’ of the super rich and a touching elegy to the continuing problem of homelessness. Roulston’s sensitive and versatile accompaniment was a huge contributor to the impact of every song, and the pair’s long-standing collaboration was clearly evident with both responding instinctively to the rhythm of the other.

A clear audience favourite was a jaunty and macabre number about an undead family reunion, the weird and embarrassing members of the family inhabiting the song clearly familiar to many. And of course, another particularly hit was the number without which no dark and pessimistic cabaret is complete: the drinking song.

Some of the particularly British references in the song may have gone over the audience’s head, but the misanthropic humour was most definitely universal. If you have a taste for the twisted and the dark, catch this homegrown treasure while you still can!

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne VIC 3000

Dates: Wed 21st – Sunday 25th June.

Time: 7pm

Prices: $32 Full, $28 Concession, Members $26, Groups (6+) $25

Bookings: thebutterflyclub.com, or at the venue.


Musings on a self-portrait

By Adam Tonking

“Bricolage,” according to writer, director, and performer Mark J. Wilson, “is the process of bringing together diverse fragments to make up a larger story,’ and in his show Homage To Bricolage he takes diverse experiences from his life story and through music, poetry, and projections, reflects on their greater implications for society at large.

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Performed as a kind of stream-of-consciousness poetry, punctuated with almost entirely original pop songs, Wilson takes us on a journey with him through his experiences of identity; in relationships, in gender, in sexuality, in online society; using cultural touchstones like dating apps, ordering takeaway, Dawson’s Creek… These almost Beat-esque poetical rants were hypnotic and emotionally delivered, frequently underscored by trance-like music and accompanied by well-chosen projections, from family photos to creepy animation. His self-composed songs did sound beautiful, although the pop sensibility of his vocal treatment made it difficult to understand the lyrics at times, and it was a shame to miss the meaning of what are clearly very personal stories.

And it was very personal. Wilson refers to this show as “his signature work,” and indeed you can see in every moment how much it means to him, how much of himself is in each piece he delivers, and his commitment is staggering. All these diverse elements, while not always successful individually, come together to form the larger story of Mark J Wilson, and bricolage is the perfect term for it.

Mark J Wilson’s Homage To Bricolage was performed at The Butterfly Club from 11 – 14 May 2017.

Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2017: CREEPY DUMMY

Witty and winning

By Myron My

It’s a weird show for weird people, or that’s what Sarah Jones tells the audience during Creepy Dummy, which is presented as part of this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Jones is a ventriloquist and through the course of the evening she is joined by a number of special “guests”, and together we try to determine why ventriloquist dummies / dolls have received such a bad rap, and for people who have seen Annabelle or Magic, it’s not hard to tell why.

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Jones explains how people often declare how creepy puppets are or expressing their automatonophobia (fear of ventriloquist’s dummies) whenever she reveals her profession to them. In order to dispel this fear, Jones shares some interesting stories and facts regarding ventriloquism and dolls through stand-up, shadow play and of course puppets.

What is particularly enjoyable about Creepy Dummy is that, despite the topic, the show cleverly remains light-hearted. It gets to the point where you begin to understand that nothing is creepy unless you let it be, and this includes a range of fears that are touched on, such as dummies, ghosts, spiders and even babies.

Jones’ relaxed nature and structuring of the performance allows for her interactions with the audience to be friendly and playful. Even when certain interactions don’t go according to plan, as happened on the night I attended, Jones does not skip a beat and happily accepts the curve ball and continues on with the show. However, the final, pivotal minutes of the show could do with a little fine-tuning to ensure it ends on the high that has been maintained throughout.

There are plenty of laughs to be had with Creepy Dummy but meeting Jones’ Aunt Catherine is definitely worth the ticket price alone. While the show might not have you loving puppets and dummies, it will definitely give you the courage to go back for second helpings of this highly talented and funny ventriloquist.

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne 

Season: until 10 April | until 2 April 8.30pm, 3 – 6 April 5:30pm, 10 April 7pm 

Length: 55 minutes 

Tickets: $32.30 Full | $28.30 Conc 

Bookings: MICF website


All praise for the songs

By Jessica Cornish

With its creator standing upstage, arms spread wide and hands busy below the waist, The Gospel According to Matthew began. This fifty-minute cabaret production encapsulated the world through the eyes of Matthew Semple, with his inner thoughts and views splashed across the stage in form of song and story-telling.

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The music-theatre-born-and-bred Semple performed his self-professed ‘shitty cabaret’ to his cosy audience, happily huddled into the intimate performance space of The Butterfly Club. This young performer had a pleasing amount of confidence and a strong stage presence; he performed with the polished hallmarks and training of a musical-theatre babe with clear diction, a strong tone and a nice dash of vibrato.

Despite the thoroughly scripted and rehearsed narrative, Semple was also comfortable enough to partake in some impromptu banter with his audience, which provoked some of the funnier moments of the night.

Unfortunately I felt the performance overall lacked a strong and clear overarching theme to its detriment, and throughout the show there were a number of one-off and throwaway jokes that for me often missed the mark. Substituting the satire and wit for cheap shots and crude humour- small dick jokes and making fun of paraolympians for example – certainly wasn’t my favourite comic styling. There was also not much character development of the main man himself: Semple touched on being recently single and ending a long-term relationship for example, however this wasn’t really explored in any detail, and considering the show’s title, it would have been interesting to hear more personal stories and self-reflection.

My favourite moments of the night were easily when Matthew at his piano took the limelight. His songs were well-constructed and entertaining, and focused more adroitly and wittily on numerous social issues currently trending in Australia such as our dubious offshore detention centres and questionable conservative MPs like Dutton and Hanson, which made for both enjoyable and thought-provoking musical numbers. Perhaps some more of these upbeat playful songs added into the mix would better support and inform the less successful moments of story-telling.

In conclusion, Matthew preaches to his crowd to ‘shout your truth’ and go forth: therefore, in truth I believe this cabaret show has the potential to grow and flourish, and hope the narrative can thus become sharper and snappier and as appealing as the music as time goes on.

The Gospel According to Matthew played at The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place Melbourne in March 2017.

The Butterfly Club Presents THE DIVINATION AGENCY

Foreseeing a promising future for this show

By Tania Herbert

The show premise here concerns two women who form ‘The Divination Agency’, running a quasi-scam providing clients with predictions of their future by calling on the dictionary for premonitions. The slightly awkwardly executed set-up, however, opened up a much more interesting issue – the line between charlatan and true clairvoyant.

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Bernadette Trench-Thiedeman takes us on a journey through her mysterious history- of a Sri Lankan father filled with stories of joy despite a background of fighting through World War II, and of the undeniable psychic link she holds with a beloved grandmother.

The creativity of the piece was evident not only through the beautiful storytelling, but through the varied mediums used, with puppets, a shadow box, projections and an original score (composed by Clair Deak) to illustrate the continual contrast between fantasy and harsh reality.

The performance of Bernadette was truly lovely – her naturalistic acting, and clear emotional relationship with the material held for every moment of the performance, and there was a real sense of connectedness between audience, performer, and the material.

However, the show was largely performed ‘vignette-style’, in brief or even fleeting scenes moving from one presentation style to the next. Much as the The Butterfly Club holds the perfect ambiance for such a piece, it was impossible to maintain the flow with such continual scene cuts in such an intimate space, and the pace of the production just couldn’t keep up with the pace of the narrative.

Huge kudos to the tech who flawlessly executed an astounding number of cues, and to Kat Taylor as the ‘offsider’ who, whilst unable to meet the charm of her fellow performer, was well up to the demanding task of moving from actor to puppeteer, to stage hand and back to actor without a flaw.

The puppets were beautiful, the shadow box lovely, and there were some really moving visuals in juxtaposing war images with war-time swing music. There were also some deep themes there- ideas of cross-generational trauma, of reincarnation, and of the complexities of accepting ones own spirituality. There was definitely something very real happening on the stage, albeit in a performance piece in need of a lot of tightening up. As my review companion remarked after – “I had a lot of thoughts”, and really, what can be more satisfying that that in the alternative theatre scene?

The Divination Agency is playing at The Butterfly Club 2-5 March, 7pm.

Tickets: $25-32

Bookings: https://thebutterflyclub.com/show/the-divination-agency