Printable CopyFROM: NEW YORK, FOR: HIM
La Bohème
Until 09 Mar 2019

Review by John Wells

Presented at the 2019 Adelaide Fringe Festival

I am gradually developing a hatred for a relentlessly prevalent theatrical genre: the grating, whiny cabaret confessional. American performer Melissa David’s show (billed as “a rom-com cabaret”) promised to be another dull outing, full of over-emoting, lovelorn, inspirational tunelessness.

How wrong I was. While “From: New York, For: Him” treads familiar ground, it is a complex, clever and utterly delightful production. The set-up is unremarkable, and works within the clichéd format, but David’s subtle writing, gorgeous and versatile voice (moving from Ethel Merman to Regina Spector), and warm, enveloping charisma mean this is a thoroughly satisfying production.

David’s story is simple: brought up by joint-rolling hippies in California, she finds her calling in theatre, enduring the ignominy of cattle calls and casting agents in New York, until – out of nowhere, she finds love with an Australian. This pedestrian narrative is given wonderful emotional momentum through her intelligent writing and wonderfully skilled acting. The varied choice of songs suits her story perfectly. David is funny, sassy, vulnerable, surprisingly unpredictable, and emotionally raw. There are moments of stillness and raucous laughter. It is a wonderful and completely engaging performance.

David’s New York schtick is balanced by the elegant, playful archness of her pianist Peppy Smears (a six-foot-five Tasmanian drag queen in sparkling sequined heels, no less). Smears’ wonderful musical accompaniment and verbal jousting adds a delicious campy repartee to the monologue.

A delicious little Fringe gem.

Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5)