|The Girls From Oz
The Girls From Oz
(Brasserie Zedel, Crazy Coqs, 26 January 2018. Review by Brianna McClean)
Australia Day in London usually goes by without much notice, despite the 200,000 Australians who crowd the streets of this city. However, last night at Brasserie Zédel’s Crazy Coqs, Australia Day was celebrated enthusiastically by The Girls From Oz, a lively cabaret group. For most Australians, the 26th of January is a day of pride and joy… mixed with just a touch of embarrassment. From the twinkling Southern Cross and long afternoons on the beach to over-drinking and colonisation, Australian culture has much to celebrate and mourn. Fittingly, this is the impression last night’s performance gave, a combination of jubilation and discomfort.
Walking into the Crazy Coqs lounge, it is immediate that the audience is in for an entertaining evening. The room is glamorous and intimate, a full crowd is buzzing in anticipation. Brasserie Zédel is the perfect place for a UK Australia Day celebration, in central Piccadilly and right around the corner from the Ugg store – it is the best of both worlds. Most of the audience appear to hail from Australia, as evident by shared laughter at specifically Southern Hemisphere jokes. This is testament to the multiculturalism of London and its arts scene. Brasserie Zédel is to be congratulated on its global atmosphere.
Unfortunately, The Girls From Oz were better in theory than in practice. Accompanying pianist, Gemma Hawkins, was clearly the stand-out performer, largely because she was not forced to dance or drink a can of Foster’s mid-performance. To their credit, the three singers, Natasha Veselinovic, Chloe-Rose Taylor and Melissa Gall, were undeniably spirited and managed to maintain their characters throughout the fast-paced set-list.
The evening consisted mostly of relatively forgettable (but extremely loud) Australian ‘anthems’. In their defence, When My Baby Smiles At Me was an enjoyable piece, featuring three-part harmonies which showcased the successful musical theatre careers of all three singers. Similarly, The Girls From Oz’s arrangement of Land Down Under was a welcome moment of sobriety and gentleness in the midst of a gaudy evening.
At one point, the Girls told this joke: “What is the difference between Australia and yoghurt? Yoghurt has culture.” As an Australian who is proud of the thriving and diverse arts scene in Australia, it saddens me to think that anyone witnessing last night’s performance would have found that joke to be true. It is a shame that what could have been an evening of patriotic fun was undermined by mis-fired performance.
To be fair, the rest of the audience seemed engaged and entertained throughout the show. The jaunty tunes and vivacious characters appeared to please the gathered crowd. Perhaps they did not notice the disharmonies and banal production. Or, perhaps I am simply not Australian enough.