CABARET FESTIVAL – Em Rusciano – Festival Theatre – 2K

By Peter Maddern

Every product based organisation must look to renew and expand their audience in a quickly changing world. Ali McGregor’s punt on putting Em Rusciano alone on the Festival Theatre stage on the opening Saturday night kicked a goal when hordes of younger women piled into the revamped complex, many I would suspect for the first time. But it was all a very long way from the none-too-distant days (or so I thought) when the grace of Olivia Newton-John filled that slot.

If we need a crusader to smash down the male-dominated, phallocentric world of modern Australia then Ms Rusciano is your gal. In a world that seems attracted to ‘look at me’ performers the somewhat narcissistic, name dropping Rusciano did not disappoint evidently speaking what her target audience wanted to hear, saying the things they wanted to say, albeit fully laden with f- and c bombs.   Her opening number I am a F… Woman spoke volumes for how far or not the sisterhood has advanced since Helen Reddy broke this turf near on 50 years ago with her song with the similar but pared back title. Then, Reddy played to a femininity of independence, here Rusciano joyed in swigging sparkling and touching herself.

The second half deteriorated somewhat (or had audience members run out of battery to catch their meme on their Samsung or Apple devices) when, after repeatedly informing us that this was her night and she could do what she wanted, she slagged off her parents for being baby boomers who had the temerity of wishing to better themselves with advanced education rather than sit at home and dote on their little Emma, following which, and to their great discomfort, she got them up on stage dancing.

Frankly, if this is what people want to hear and say and this is what the Cabaret Festival is becoming, beam me up Scotty and get me out of here.

Kryztoff Rating   2K

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