The Graffiti Room at the Brisbane Powerhouse is not a particularly big place but, even there, when silence fills the room it can be deafening.
It happened early on in Claire Healy’s one-woman show, and it is to Claire’s credit that it ended at supersonic speed. She didn’t even blink and was already on to the next anecdote, joke or song. Part cabaret/part stand-up comedy her show grows in stature as it progresses.
At the beginning she is mentioning jobs she failed at in an upbeat manner but offering nothing particularly new or memorable, about terrible jobs that most of us had at least once in our lifetime. Yet slowly her talent and character comes to the fore and Claire becomes more and more likeable and as a result more entertaining. First there is that voice, a cross between Missy Higgins and Jewel, it’s loud and big, sometimes a little too big but it’s the kind of voice that makes you stand back in wonder at why the hell she is not packing out a stadium.
The kind of voice that can be heard outside cafes and Grill’d Burgers on a Friday night or RSL clubs on a Saturday. Yet it is just as talented and powerful as anything you hear at the latest musical touring. That voice matches the premise of the show so perfectly, a voice that has taken Claire around the world and always allowed her to entertain people anywhere and find work but has yet to mean she can stop office temping.
Then there is the humour, slight but full of steely resolve as she gets the audience to open up about their own work experiences and tells stories of ex-boyfriends she needed to leave in her rear view mirror.
Never failing to keep it light (especially when playing her ukulele) we do start to ponder how painful some jobs can be. How it can suck to get past 30 and be still just surviving with gigs and not a career, but also how happiness can be found in the small moments. There is a cost to pursuing a career in the arts and Claire doesn’t shy away from that but she has also seen the world and followed her dream.
Additionally, in the small sanctuary of the Graffiti Room she has turned silence into laughter and gazing into singing along. Claire Healy has a real job, she makes people smile and she is very good at it.