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Cabaret Under the Star
Star Theatres
Until 27 Oct 2017

Review by Anthony Vawser

The maturity and talent of the teenage Raft siblings – Georgie and Jack - are on display from the first phrase of their opening number. They present songs of emotional depth, delivered with a gorgeous restraint. Their backing musicians/singers – for the most part – are as smooth, solid, and supportive as can be – while the delightful Rory Adams, an accomplished performer in his own right with a pleasantly infectious sound, is an excellent choice as mid-show guest performer.

The tricky business of stagecraft in a straightforward cabaret setting is decently dealt with. There are no overt characters, artificial personas, or distancing masks to be found here, but we do learn a little of the Rafts’ history by way of charming anecdotes and archival photography. Stage lighting has been very smartly arranged.

The incorporation of multimedia into their presentation demonstrates commendable confidence, as well as an awareness of the power of visual texture, and a willingness to attempt communication on more than one level at a time. Unfortunately, it can become a distraction when the performer in motion on screen appears to be not quite in sync with the same performer who is live on the stage.

Selections from Birdy, “Beauty and the Beast” and “Ghost” are memorable highlights, while Georgie’s original composition “Bystander” is ambitious and striking, and the backing track to fellow original “Standing in Your Shadow” is a savvy pop production. “7 Seconds” is a splendid song and a brave selection to tackle, but it gets a bit battered by excessive percussion and a speeded-up tempo that tends to bury the lyrical message.

This reviewer has never quite shared the world’s level of enthusiasm for Coldplay’s “Clocks”; divorced here from the band’s original sound, it feels undernourished and repetitive, in both composition and lyric, and the key selected (possibly to best accommodate the voices of both Rafts) feels a bit of an awkward fit. Perhaps they could consider adding the underrated “In My Place” to the set list next time?

This is a pair of performers who are well worth keeping an eye on.