This cabaret show was glittery, bubbly, lovelorn… And inspired the whole audience to 'embrace their inner f...ing unicorns'.
Emma Dean is a Brisbane institution, and one who has spent the last decade or two writing and collecting stories about heartbreak. She has woven these songs into an enchanting performance all about finding love in all the wrong places, until you learn to love yourself.
While a theme of ‘self love’ might sound a bit naff, this show is anything but. Backed up by a team of musicians, Emma takes to the stage in full 'Rainbow Brite'-inspired regalia, with fairy lights peering out through the gloom. At one point, Emma tells stories about how her inner “light” has come between her and various lovers who all “preferred the dark”. If any other performer said this, eyes would roll, but she has such a radiant stage presence that the audience can totally see this happening.
It’s this stage presence that really elevates the show above the general recitation of love songs, both covers and original works. Emma has an impressive vocal range, and uses it like a weapon. At times, she is earnest and caring, thought-provoking and heartbreaking. Then she yodels, or turns her voice whiney to grate on the audience like fingernails down a chalkboard. She keeps us entertained, so that each song is completely different.
Her show is incredibly fun and inclusive. A guest performer, Jamie Kendall, danced to accompany the music. Like Emma, his movement could be incredibly serious, direct from a prestigious contemporary dance recital. Next, he plays a dog called Fritz, or appears in very brief undies with a toy gun, trying to pierce Emma’s heart. The audience wasn’t safe though, one poor man was pulled from his seat to lie on stage while Emma squatted above him, serenading him about wanting to lick his eyeball.
We hit peak inclusivity though as the show drew to a close, and audience members formed a pop-up choir. Singing about how everyone is loveable, the choir members in front of me included a differently-abled gentleman, and a same-sex couple, singing their hearts out. It was a feel-good note to end on, and a feel-great show.