Tag: Tom Dickins


Scintillatingly clever and funny

By Bradley Storer

Not being a big gin-drinker myself, I was worried initially that a show entirely about gin would fly straight over my head. I was put at ease straight away upon entering the venue to find the performers jauntily jamming away onstage about groanworthy gin puns to the laughter of the audience – I may not be a gin connoisseur, but I AM a lover of bad puns.

Mother's Ruin.jpg

After the show proper began, we were introduced to performers and writers Libby Wood and Maeve Marsden along with their token male accompanist, indie cabaret star Tom Dickins, in a riotous Kander and Ebb number complete with hilariously minimal choreography before we shot off on a rocketing ride through the varied and colourful history of gin.

Wood and Marsden guide us through industrial revolution London, into the Peruvian jungles and all the way through to the modern day, utilizing music from artists such as Amy Winehouse, Peggy Lee and Nina Simone re-arranged into scintillating three-way harmonies, along with a few choice moments of beat-boxing and the uniquely titled ‘malarial burlesque’. Wood and Marsden’s voices blend and meld beautifully together in harmony, but both are equally capable of unleashing powerful vocals in their solo spots.

What is so striking about the show is how it examines the interconnection of gin, which stereotypically was believed to have been produced and consumed primarily by Industrial-era women, with historical patterns of misogyny and the disempowerment of women that continued deep into the 20th century. While played mostly for laughs, hearing the stories of women throughout the ages subtly suggests that the ‘mother’s ruin’ of the title is not in fact gin, but patriarchal oppression itself as it grinds women down to nothing. When Marsden lets loose an iconic and expletive-filled Martha Wainwright song, the withering lyric ‘I will not put on a smile / I will not say I’m all right for you’ feels like the rage-filled cry of women throughout history spilling forth in defiant indignation.

An hilarious comedy-cabaret with a cunningly concealed sociological undercurrent, it is easy to see why Mother’s Ruin has been enjoying sell-out seasons across the country and we can only hope for even more success for such an original and creatively executed show!

Mother’s Ruin: A Cabaret About Gin played at The Box, Map 57, Jacka Blvd, St Kilda VIC 3182 from 19 – 21 July, 2017.

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

REVIEW: Tom Dickins says F**K PLAN B

An inspirational piece from a talented man
By Kate Boston-Smith
To: Tom Dickins
From: Amanda Palmer
Jettison the job.
Fuck Plan B
I’ll support you in anyway I can… Xx
There is no doubting Tom Dickins of The Jane Austen Argument has a beautiful velvet voice and in his latest solo show, F**k Plan B, he fluently moves through his impressive range. 
This new cabaret show is bold and brave: Dickins takes us through his journey from high-school dreamer to educated and informed performer who steps out from the shackles of 9-to-5 work.
There were moments in the show that reminded me of my favourite scene in  the musical confessions of A Chorus Line as Dickins retells his experience, his heartache and his unorthodox approach to decision-making in his Brunswick apartment.
He shares with us personal inspiration from his grandfather, a man who has clearly left his mark on his grandson: the love he has for him is undeniable.

His show has strong moments and his skilful song-writing is great, but I have to say I was rather frustrated by his dark eye makeup and hair, as I could not see his eyes.  He gives us a very personal story filled with intimate details, but he was unfortunately hidden in the shadows of the makeup.   

Dickens has clearly had a dream-like start to his creative career as a independent writer and performer. I would certainly love to hear more from the depths of this imagination and what other sorts of colourful musings he has on the world.

All in all this is an inspirational show for anyone wanting to bravely follow their dream, so go along tonight for the final show of F**k Plan B and support Tom in his.

Tom Dickens in F**k Plan B

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 204 Bank St. South Melbourne

Date: Final show Sunday (tonight) 6pm 

Tickets: $22 full,
$19 concession,
$18 group (8+)

Bookings: www.thebutterflyclub.com


An act of chivalry, bravery, comedy – and Celine Dion

By Kim Edwards

In all the best off-beat, edgy, witty and unlikely ways, The Damsel in Shining Armour is wonderful award-winning Fringe-esque comedy. Gagged and bound for her opening number, Sophie Walsh-Harrington promptly rescues herself from her bonds and her audience from their prosaic lives and sweeps us all into a modern musical melodrama with just the right amount of self-satire.

The great charm of the show is Walsh-Harrington herself, who enchants us with knightly tales of real-world romance where her laconic and satirical comic delivery is contrasted delightfully with outrageous physical humour, and punctuated with the reworked epic ballads of Celine Dion. Blessed with a rich and effortless voice, particularly in her lush lower register, our damsel fearlessly saves Celine from cabaret contempt with some clever musical arrangements and neat segues from story to lyrics.

The unique performance space of La Mama offered director Tom Dickins wonderful dramatic possibilities for unexpected direction and blocking, and beautiful Jen Kingwell is both an impressive musical ally and a lovely stage presence in the show.

Some of the show’s devices are more successful than others, and the narrative that has been so engaging and funny has a little trouble getting back up on the white steed after a particularly poignant moment, but the arch and over-arching charm of the performance is beguiling.

Ultimately, the show’s heroic skill at predicting and preventing cliches, drawing cleverly unconventional connections between anecdotes and songs, and Walsh-Harrington’s unwavering commitment to her material and character dub this damsel’s quest a triumphant knight’s entertainment.

The Damsel in Shining Armour won Best Cabaret for Adelaide Fringe 2011 and is now in Melbourne for the Comedy Festival.

Written and performed by Sophie Walsh-Harrington
Directed by Tom Dickins
Musical Director: Jennifer Kingwell
Tech and Lighting: Bec Etchell

La Mama Theatre, 205 Faraday St, Carlton
Wed April 6 – Sun April 17
Wed & Fri 6.30pm; Thurs & Sat 8.30pm, Suns 4.30pm
Duration: 60 mins approx.
Tickets: $25 / $15
Bookings: 9347 6142 / comedyfestival.com.au
For more information: www.lamama.com.au or http://sophiewalshharrington.com/


 Applications are closing soon for the next Melbourne Creating Solo Cabaret course  in 2011
Kitty Bang

 Treat yourself to cabaret!   With graduates such as sell-out comedian Kitty Bang (Kate Boston Smith), the enigmatic Madame Natalia of the Burlesque Bar, and amazing Tom Dickins from The Jane Austen Argument, the Melbourne Creating Solo Cabaret course continues to gain in professional and industry reputation.  

Run in Australia’s premiere cabaret venue The Butterfly Club by coordinator Dr. Kim Edwards, this intensive six-week course is open to all performance artists looking to explore the world of cabaret and create unique, marketable, and eclectic showcases for themselves and their work. 
Graduates of the course are going on to full-length shows to packed houses, award-winning festival performances, touring gigs, and corporate and professional cabaret work.  
Watch out for new Melbourne shows by recent alumni Christine Moffat and Eleni Avraam early in 2011, while the Box Hill TAFE students who completed the course as part of their music theatre degree will be making professional cabaret appearances later in the year.
Tom Dickins

 The next Melbourne Creating Solo Cabaret course begins on Tuesday February 15, with the final performance season at The Butterfly Club running from 24-27 March.  

If you’ve always wanted to get into cabaret and never known where to start, click HERE for all the course details, including the curriculum outline, fee structure, and application details.   As always, places are strictly limited due to the individual focus of the course, so apply now.

Madame Natalia

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