Cabaret Festival Review: Songs For Those Who’ve Come Across The Seas


Presented by Adelaide Festival Centre and Slingsby
Reviewed 20 June 2018

This world premiere production is fabulous and so, so relevant in today’s uncertain world. Satomi Ohnishi plays drums while Quincy Grant, Gareth Chin, Cameron Goodall and Leah Flanagan make some great rock music playing some 12 different instruments between them with Goodall and Flanagan also belting out some brilliant original songs.

The premise of the show is a child reading a science book about a volcanic island which rises out of the sea and how it is populated by flora, fauna and at last, people. Interestingly, the putative child only turns to the book when the immediate gratification of his remote controlled car has failed due to flat batteries and other toys can’t be played with because of a blackout. With nothing better to do, he decides to read the book by torch light.

All this takes place in front of some incredible original art work by Thom Buchanan projected onto three overlapping drapes. His sketches seem to be on electrical plans and street maps with the nodes and connections on the paper further demonstrating the connectedness of all those who come to the island. The scenes have the look of a collage, carefully layered building up the life of the island from bare volcanic rock to a vibrant eco system.

The original music and songs beautifully portray the gradual development of life on the island and celebrate the diversity of that life. From a simple seed borne on the wind; driftwood washing up on the shore; the wandering albatross that mates for life; and the young seal who has to establish a new territory in contrast with the ancient turtle whose instinctive memory draws her back to the beach where she was born to lay her own eggs. All these creatures, and more, occupy their particular niche on the island and the cycle of life develops harmoniously.

Although nature will always be ‘red in tooth and claw’ this is the natural order of the food chain until finally people arrive on the island and the harmony is destroyed by jealousies, divisions over beliefs and fights over resources. The divisions are such that the people leave their island in the hope that a nearby bare rocky island will be better. A vain hope as they are battered by a fierce storm.

This is of course analogous to what we see in our world and is especially relevant on World Refugee Day. For the finale the images projected draw out from the island until we see the earth from space alongside uninhabitable planets thus serving to remind us that we only have this one planet – there is nowhere else for us to go.

A brilliant, thought provoking show full of fabulous songs and music, lighting and projection effects. Don’t miss it!

Reviewed by Jan Kershaw

Rating out of 5:  5

Venue:  Dunstan Playhouse
Season:  20-21 June
Duration:  60 mins
Tickets: $ 46.90 $41.90 Conc $36.90


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