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One woman performing as one endearing bloke

Festivals

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Selina Jenkins’ creation, Beau Heartbreaker, is described as a “story-telling, down-to-earth country boy, a troubadour in an Akubra, and a bloody nice bloke”, which is a pretty apt description.

Beau Heartbreaker appears in a flannelette shirt, moleskins and Akubra and sporting a healthy beard: he sits down and begins comfortably spinning yarns and singing in an Aussie dairy farmer’s drawl.

The first song is “38km”, which is about the distance between his dairy farm and the neighbours. The lyrics are witty and the persona is a delightful parody of a John Williamson-like country singer-songwriter.

Heartbreaker tells stories about travelling to Mongolia, riding ponies in the desert and trying to find a discrete place to relieve himself in a wide flat plain that stretches for hundreds of kilometres. There are images held up to show us Mongolian ponies, the huts the nomads live in and their diet. Beau is a dry, laconic Aussie with tongue firmly planted in his cheek: he is quick-witted and strikes a good rapport with the audience.

One of the skills of this entertainer is the ability to string the audience along with a serious yarn, only to break it with a joke; or to lead us in one direction, only to take us by surprise with something we didn’t see coming. This was executed particularly well in the song “I’ve Got Something to Tell You” when Beau, the young dairy farmer, needs to tell his family something about himself which takes them some time to adjust to.

Beau Heartbreaker sings well: sometimes the rougher lower register sounds a bit like Melissa Etheridge and occasionally higher notes sound a little like Mariah Carey or Joni Mitchell, so there’s a reasonable range.

I enjoyed this gentle, satirical performance very much and throughout the performance I was hoping that we would get to hear Selina Jenkins in full voice: I got my wish in the final song, “Good News”, which is about tolerance and understanding.

Jenkins is a talented performer and she has created a highly marketable character in Beau Heartbreaker (and she’s not jokin’ when she says maybe he should be Beau Heartbroken).

Beau Heartbreaker: one woman performing as one endearing bloke can be seen again tonight and tomorrow (November 20-21) at Caos Café at 188 Hindley Street. The show is part of the Feast Festival, which continues until November 30.

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