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Cabaret Festival review: The Swell Mob

Cabaret Festival

UK company Flabbergast Theatre invites audience members to lose themselves in a delightfully sinful world filled with thieves, lovers and vagrants in the Australian premiere of The Swell Mob.

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Set in a dimly lit 1800s taproom, this immersive historical performance transports us to a time of debauchery and drunken adventure where anything can (and probably will) happen.

It’s a world filled with wonderful characters who invite you to drink, gamble and interact – but be warned, not everyone is friendly and there are plenty of strange and ominous individuals lurking in the darkness.

As with any immersive performance, the quality of the experience depends on your willingness to get involved, and the talented cast of Flabbergast Theatre do an amazing job of creating an exciting environment which encourages audience participation.

Over the course of 75 minutes, participants make their way through the authentic-looking saloon (complete with gin bar, piano, rustic chairs and mysterious side rooms), meeting kind-hearted street urchins, lovable larrikins and imposing silent figures who call this world home.

Clad in 19th-century clothing (with a hint of steam punk style to make things interesting), the performers are all completely dedicated to their roles, bringing their entertaining characters to life in unique ways. Their energy and enthusiasm creates a sense of fun, and it is easy to become swept up in the excitement of this unusual world.

Held in the Adelaide Festival Centre’s Artspace venue and featuring a combination of theatre, dance, singing and puppetry, The Swell Mob is an immersive experience unlike anything you have seen before.

The only negative is that it isn’t long enough; there are so many interesting characters to meet and places to explore, and the time seems to fly by. I could have easily spent another hour – or more – with this fantastic mob.

The Swell Mob is playing at Artspace until June 22 as part of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Learn more about the show in this Q&A with co-director Jordan Chandler, and see all InDaily’s Cabaret Festival stories and reviews here.

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