By Hamish Stening
Space cops Carol and Sophia are pursuing three martians: Alpha, Beta, and Omega. The martians have journeyed to earth to seduce human females, and I'm sure most of you can see where this is going.
What follows is 72 minutes of laughs, banger musical numbers, and a lot of green make up. Mars: An Interplanetary Cabaret is effectively one long sketch but is packed with enough jokes and upbeat tunes to be entertaining start to finish, and whilst the show does present an important message, it knows it's audience and doesn't let the message compromise the comedy.
Using martians as representations of hypermasculinity is a clever, inoffensive idea. It allows the actors to bring out the ridiculousness and absurdity of all-too-common hypermasculine tropes and be entertaining while holding up their metaphorical mirror. It also makes the story easy to follow: something important given that the real attraction of the cabaret is it's songs.
Are they clichéd, yes, but that is half the point. Everything from upbeat post-2000s musicals to jazz noir to bosa nova is parodied (I for one had never heard a techno remix of The Girl from Ipanema before). The music's predictability and familiarity facilitates so many jokes, and their surprising variety holds the audiences attention throughout.
Aside from the wonderful three-piece band, Jacob McLean, Amelia Campbell, and Tom Matthews are the stand-out stars of the show. McLean's Omega is lovably pathetic and incredibly funny. Campbell's Sophia is the contrasting straight cop, but is herself just the right amount of over-the-top to never never boring nor distracting. Host and cabaret master Matthews sets the tone of the piece early and breaks up the show's musical numbers with cute, little, essentially stand-up sets.
The set is wonderfully cheap (as this show is very reasonably priced, especially for the quality). It captures the tone of the cabaret perfectly but also cleverly sets different scenes and tones with its very effective lighting.
This cabaret is very smart and very successful. It delivers buckets of laughs, quality, and entertainment at the most accessible price point. Shows like this are desperately necessary is Sydney's generally expensive art and comedy scene, but on the other hand so difficult to pull off. This is a hidden gem and a show definitely worth catching before it closes August 4.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.