Adelaide Cabaret Festival
Dunstan Playhouse
Until 20 Jun 2019

Review by Anthony Vawser

This is not your typical cabaret show.

For one thing, it climaxes with graphic one-way phone-sex in the form of an epic message from an answering machine.

For another, Mr Beau doesn’t actually sing. There are, in fact, significant sequences where he doesn’t even actually talk, yet his performance in these sections remains both lively and full of words. This is because Dickie is something of a master at the art of lip-synching, whether to classic 80s pop music, archival show-biz interviews, or academic dissertations.

What most clearly separates this performer from many of his brethren is the interest in – and aptitude for - subject matter that goes beyond the merely trivial or shallow. The fact that French philosopher Roland Barthes is quoted during the course of “Unplugged” is yet more evidence that Dickie Beau is an ‘out of the box’ entertainer.

There are poignant observations about the relationship between images in general and what we call ghosts, as well as the role that both have played in human society – and psychology – through the ages. If this all sounds a bit ‘heady’ for your tastes, let it be known that Mr Beau delivers most of his material decked in in Don Dunstan’s shorts-and-socks combo that are so iconic to South Australians of a certain age.

It must be admitted that occasionally the shifts in gear that this show undertakes prove to be a tad too much. One-or-two particularly long chunks of verbose theorising threatened to un-ironically take on the feel of a university lecture, and risked losing not only the audience’s attention but their goodwill also.

Fortunately, our master-of-ceremonies could not have chosen a more memorable or confronting way with which to conclude his proceedings, thus putting the collective achievements of the preceding hour-or-so into proper perspective, and making it easy to appreciate both Dickie Beau’s ambitious reach as well as his impressive grasp. One suspects that Mr Beau’s level of talent - and his range of interests - will keep any future appearances onstage worth putting at the top of our ‘must-see’ lists.