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Review: Apocalypse Meow: Crisis is Born at The Malthouse Theatre

By Natalie Hamman

Meow Meow has been named one of the ‘Top Performers of the Year’ (The New Yorker), ‘The Queen of Chanson (Berliner Zuitung), ‘sensational’ (The Times), and ‘a phenomenon’ (The Australian). Now she’s gracing the stage at The Malthouse Theatre with Apocalypse Meow: Crisis is Born.

Meilissa Madden Gray, (aka Meow Meow) is back again with her Christmas themed tragi-comedienne cabaret. As Meow Meow put it, Apocalypse Meow: Crisis is Born is a ‘all inclusive, non-denominational’ take on the classic holiday. Performed on a minimally set stage, Meow Meow’s props are well chosen and impactful. The set resembling somewhat of a rundown storage room, we follow Meow Meow as all her plans fall to shambles in 90 minutes of cleverly controlled chaos.

Watching Apocalypse Meow is like watching your cool wine aunt at Christmas get drunk and have an existential crisis. As Meow Meow’s meticulously planned performance breaks into shambles, we start to see more of the performer's true side, past the sophisticated charm and glamourous exterior. Apocalypse Meow: Crisis is Born is not your ordinary Christmas show. Indeed, catastrophe has never been so seductive.

Apocalypse Meow is an incredibly funny and accurate commentary on the modern-day Christmas values. If you’ve ever really looked forward to Christmas just to be disappointed by a pair of socks under your Christmas tree, Apocalypse Meow is just for you. We watch Meow Meow as she tries to remember the true meaning of Christmas. From our insatiable desire to accumulate ‘stuff’, to remembering the dreams of our childhood and thoughts of “what could have been” Meow Meow explores both the joyous and melancholy sides of Christmas. The tragicomedy will have you rolling in your seats laughing one minute, and thoughtfully contemplating your entire life, the next.

Apocalypse Meow is somewhat of a pantomime, and Meow Meow is frequently found in the first several front rows. While stand-up comedy is not advertised on the show, Meow Meow’s quick wit and humour is evident as she interacts with the audience. If you’re lucky enough to be in the very first row, you might end up with more than you bargained for and get roped into helping Meow Meow with various tasks. After all, she’s a busy girl.

From gracing the audience with some haunting songs from her new album, to ballet and cabaret, Meow Meow takes “Christmas show” to a whole new level.  Meow Meow’s sweet, rich, and melodic voice is at times, bewitching. Among all the rapture of Christmas traditions, Meow Meow manages to convey incredible tenderness in her music which can be quite disarming. Accompanied by the incredibly talented Mark Jones & Dan Witton, the performance is both witty and charming. Meow Meow constantly surprises the audience with her imagination and tenacity, and even brings her own handheld smoke machine into the mix.

Apocalypse Meow: Crisis is Born is a thought provoking performance and mirrors what some of us might go through during Christmas’s less happy times. While at times the performance is egregious funny, it does at times include references to alcohol, depression, suicide, and the abuse of prescribed medication. This performance is not child friendly and viewer discretion is advised. As Meow Meow herself stated, “There is a time for children, and Christmas is not it.”

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All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.


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