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Cabaret Festival

Review: Vigil – Christie Whelan-Browne

Cabaret Festival

Vigil is an intimate and absorbing piece of original musical theatre exploring the raw subject matter of an ailing mother and prodigal daughter.

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Acclaimed actor and musical theatre star Christie Whelan-Browne plays Liz, who returns from overseas travel to try to forge a career as a music agent. She visits her bedridden mother in a home, only to find her close to death and uncommunicative.

Whelan-Browne uses her considerable talent, acting skills and vocals to carry this solo show. Her voice is beautiful, with incredible range and crystal-clear diction. She transitions from dialogue to song, from sadness and anger to humour, all with perfect timing. It is easy to see why she has had such a successful career in musicals, theatre, television and movies.

The songs are original compositions by renowned composer and jazz pianist Joe Chindamo. Although mostly a mixture of sad ballads about guilt, expectations and tragedy, they also include humorous pieces about flirting and being a special child.

The music is sublime: the lilting piano of Chindamo and the beautiful sound of violin virtuoso Zoë Black, with accompanying cellist, bring the subtle melodies to life.

The subject matter is a brave venture for writer, producer and performer Steve Vizard: an exploration of an adult’s transition from needy, resentful child to appreciative, loving daughter at her mother’s bedside, hoping for “one more breath”. The story is heavy, the humour black, and ultimately the lack of upside leaves the audience heading to the bar for a second glass.

Directed by Andy Packer, co-founder of Adelaide-based theatre company Slingsby, Vigil is a beautifully performed piece of theatre with highly acclaimed performers.

Vigil’s Adelaide Cabaret Festival season has now ended. See more Adelaide Cabaret Festival reviews and previews here.

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