Vigil: Christie Whelan Browne

Vigil Christie Whelan Brown Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2017Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Space Theatre. 12 Jun 2017

 

Desperation, financial and spiritual, neediness, guile, repressed angst, rage, hopelessness and wrenched from the heart nostalgia powers Liz back to the family home after decades away. Her Christmas Eve is alike to Dickens’ famous tale in which her life recounts itself to her as ghostly memories of Christmas past, present and hope of a Christmas future to realise.

 

Christie Whelan Browne offers up a sharp no nonsense woman of the world with a steel hard attitude hiding a much softer, brassier, vulnerable young self, desperate to remember, recount, reconsider so much of her life as she settles into a vigil like evening of remembrance, play, booze and revelatory moments.

 

Whelan Browne owns the character with great depth, moving from spoken text to song and back with peerless timing and musical phrasing challenging her to maintain a structured, smooth flow.

 

She is sassy, funny, dark, vulnerable and brilliant. She is a child wanting, a teen rebel glorying in past memories, a woman confused and angry that she’s been misunderstood by her Mum, and ready to confess to so much.

 

Steve Vizard’s book is fantastic. The larrikin spirit of the comic sketch writer he was famed as in the 80s and 90s is still there in outline with this work, but choosing to work within a musically based framework has done something to his outlook. Something good.

 

Director Andy Packer has kept it simple, but in challenging ways. He’s ensured Whelan Browne has the right flow of emotion and action within the constricted square revolving set consisting of bed, settee and clothes hanger. Packer’s direction is especially valuable for seamlessly blending monologue in drama and song.

 

Joe Chindano’s score is deceptive in its simplicity. It reels off sophisticated, unexpected trills of treble glissando and backed by violin, is remarkably evocative stylistically in unexpected ways.

 

David O’Brien

 

When: 12 Jun

Where: Space Theatre

Bookings: Closed

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