Cabaret Fringe Festival
Union Hall (formerly The Promethean)
Until 21 Jun 2019

Review by Paige Mulholland

Millicent Sarre – singer, songwriter, sometimes-pianist and avid feminist. In her debut self-produced cabaret performance, Sarre shares the basics of feminism with a healthy helping of humour and some spectacular original songs. Sarre was definitely preaching to the converted, but her audience laughed, sang along, and clearly adored her performance regardless.

Sarre’s show is described as “a crash course in modern intersectional feminism”, and it certainly delivers, delving into topics such as intersectionality, mansplaining, consent, the Me Too movement and toxic masculinity. But particularly towards the beginning of the show, the script feels a little too informational and removed, and seems to underestimate its audience – if you’re coming to a feminist cabaret, chances are you’re pretty familiar with these concepts already, and don’t need the dictionary definition.

Cabaret’s greatest strength is its ability to convey complex social ideas through intimate stories – to show people how these social buzzwords affect real life people. Sarre does an excellent job of this in her songs; almost every single one drips with her own lived experience and clearly comes from the heart, but at first feels less like a confidante and more like a teacher. As the show rolls on though, she begins to share more of her own stories with the audience, and this is where the show hits a wonderful, emotive, sometimes heart-wrenching stride.

Sarre is a beautiful singer, with a rich, high voice and a Missy Higgins-esque Australian twang. Her harmonies with backing singer/occasional beatboxer/all-round support Jemma Allen are airtight, and the two obviously have a ball together. With an almost-totally-original soundtrack ranging from rap to emotive ballads and perky pop, the show is musically unpredictable, sophisticated and fun.

Sarre’s audience loved every moment of her performance, and it’s easy to see why – with topical subject matter, self-deprecating, likeable humour and catchy, meaningful songs the show has all the bones of something unforgettable. If she continues to shift her focus from teaching to sharing, she’ll have something that borders on perfect.