I love edgy cabaret - give me songs about Chemsex (thanks Bourgeois and Maurice), or anti-drag (thanks David Hoyle) or blood, sweat and other bodily fluids (thanks Christeene) and I will be a very happy person. So when I heard about this show that was promising to be ‘edgier than a machete’ I was excited to check it out.
I was hoping for something a lot more edgy and wild, and at times it felt a little too safe
The show started with flashing lights, lots of smoke and a giant washing line that a creature (Leah Shelton) emerged from, flashing a torchlight around the audience as disjointed music played. This was a promising start; an uneasiness filled the air. Leah eventually revealed herself and set out to take us on a journey through the Australian outback, encountering a range of stereotypical characters on the way.
For me, Leah was at her best when dancing around with a baby-eating Dingo head on, using the baby doll heads as cricket balls, or when she embodied a dying kangaroo, moving her body around to the sound of an unfortunate tale about a man’s encounter with a ‘roo.
As the show goes on, we hear a range of stories, some less enthralling than others. There was one about some girls exploring that seemed to trail off without an ending, and then others that seemed to take us in one direction, before being dropped off completely. One story in particular, about a hitch-hiking girl, created a horror movie atmosphere that could have been built on, but instead was just used as filling for a costume change.
I did enjoy lots of Terror Australis, and perhaps if I’d had a couple of drinks beforehand I would have enjoyed it even more. I was hoping for something a lot more edgy and wild, and at times it felt a little too safe. That being said, Leah mixes up cabaret, burlesque and elements of drag to create an entertaining show. She is a talented lip-syncer, dancer and comedic performer and I look forward to seeing what she might come up with next, as she has a lot of promise.