La Bohème
Until 19 Mar 2017

Review by Anthony Vawser

Tom Waits has provided the world of cabaret with a treasure trove of riches through the years, and cabaret artists are – naturally – as keen as ever to exercise their chops on the man’s marvellous music.

Statuesque vocalist/guitarist Marisa Quigley – visually striking with red hair and a ‘tattoo’ patterned dress - and her band (Rudi Katterl, Chris Mangan, Sam Marshall, Bella Jeanne Rafaell, and Priscilla Jane Armstrong) present a strong, tuneful selection from the Waits catalogue, linked with dreamy narration from Quigley that may or may not be a little too knowingly overripe for your tastes.

“Blue Valentine”, given a sultry feminine spin, with an arrangement both restrained and powerful, is a top choice to begin and end the set, while the selection in between - though a touch on the ‘safe’ side – effectively blends musical moods, delivering consistent strength and style. There are times when the atmosphere is conjured so vividly as to resemble a David Lynch movie like “Wild at Heart”.

At its best, the spoken ‘drama’ swims around the imagination like the best kind of poetry, but when it begins to feel naggingly hollow and empty, as it does toward the end, along comes another fine band number to pep the mood back up. You may not come away from this show with an awareness of the iconoclastic Waits’ multi-faceted career, but within its limitations, this is a solidly satisfying set.

Rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5)