Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2011.
Space Theatre, 23 to 25 June.
Let’s set the scene: you are settling into your seat in the converted Space Theatre, probably having a chat to the persons either side, perhaps topping up your wine glass (alcohol in the venue? Yes please!). With unusual rapidity, the lights are dimmed and the performer enters the stage, grabbing the mic and launching into the first heavy, lounge-core number before you have time to ask “top up, darling?”.
It’s at this point you will likely find yourself in a state of mild confusion: Am I in the right theatre? Did I come to the right festival? Have I accidentally stumbled into the Gov? Despite any initial mixed emotions for a show that feels decidedly more rock than cabaret at first listen, the audience is quickly introduced to a performer who is much, much more than either. Dare one say it, on stage Storm Large reminds you of everything Courtney Love wished she could be.
Large’s frank and dark biographical performance Crazy Enough is definitely not your average Cabaret Festival show. In truth, is not your “average” show full stop: the term over-share simply doesn't go far enough. This nicely summarises Large herself however, and by the hour’s conclusion you'll be hooked and dreading the impending curtain close.
Initial feelings of bemusement and a general uncertainty of what to make of her will no doubt be experienced, but her talent, comedy and no-holds-barred honesty will have you intrigued before you have time to wander exactly what a "dick whisperer" is.
A self-described aspirer to the latter pursuit as a naive and corrupted tween, Large is full of such disturbing and frank anecdotes. Having survived a mentally-disturbed and suicidal mother, a sexually exposed teenage hood and a heroin addiction in her twenties, it’s not surprising that in attempting to describe Large, you find her hard to pin down. A thesaurus of adjectives spring to mind: talented, crass, beautiful, crazy, hilarious, determined, self-destructive, feminist, complicated - take your pick. One thing’s for sure, she has a hell of a story to tell.
A hugely talented individual, Large has an amazing voice, great song-writing capability and an incredible presence. Hers is the kind that draws you in piece by piece, leaving you with a craving need to get closer, to crawl inside her head and find out what makes her tick.
Crazy Enough is less a life story and more a public catharsis. Despite the brutal and occasionally shocking honesty of the show, her potty-mouth, comedic approach and sheer talent grants her a free-pass on the appearance of over-done theatrics or self-indulgence. It’s a superfine line, but she rides it with ease.
This show has so many highlights it’s hard to pick. Her interpretation of Olivia Newton John's Hopelessly Devoted To You is hilariously brilliant and benefits from the added edge of having the lady herself performing at the same festival. The glorious contrast is something every woman should experience. Her version of The Pixie's Where Is My Mind is more than worthy, while the closing number Eight Miles Wide had the audience gasping between peals of laughter.
Perhaps Large’s greatest achievement to date comes not in avoiding becoming her mother – the grim and premature future unsympathetically predicted by a no-doubt esteemed member of medical establishment – but in overcoming that legacy. To her and our great benefit, she has lived to tell the tale and is a consummate narrator.
If you get the chance, see this show. You won’t regret it.