If you want a fun cabaret show with bright coloured costumes, great singing, a fun vibe, and an all-round good time, you should definitely check out The Illegitimate Love Children of Bob Downe and Magda Szubanski. Fun and energetic, it was filled with great music, a mildly annoying audience, and great costumes – all the ingredients to a great cabaret.
The performers, Steph and Dan Teitelbaum, were able to generate a good atmosphere. Full of energy, and getting the audience laughing straight off the bat, the show is only ostensibly about the (impossible) illegitimate love children of iconic performers Bob Downe and Magda Szubanski. It was an excuse for ridiculous and fourth-wall breaking costume changes, fun songs, and a mild parody of all those “growing up” shows. Plus the not-so-sneaky social commentary on the LGBTI+ struggle was well handled – light enough to not dampen the mood; sold enough to not be easily dismissed. But then again, when the show is inspired by the likes of Bob Downe and Magda Szubanski, would it really be any different?
Hats off to the musicians as well. These sorts of shows are led by the vocalists and performers – which can be a nightmare to follow. Plus the music choices were quite diverse, and they managed to convey the feel of all the different pieces, although it is admittedly hard to give justice to an epic Queen number without a guitarist and a stadium. The sound and lighting guy was well done as well – everything was well balanced for the venue, and there were no moments that seemed to be out of place. Even the easels with the photos of the “parents” was well done – suitably amusing yet iconic photos were chosen, which generated laughs and helped keep the theme. And the rainbow light show at opportune moments was not unnoticed – well done.
There were still moments in the show that could have had a bit more polishing. The sections that were ad-libbed were definitely noticeable, and sometimes a few of the lyrics and song structures were forgotten by the singers (the musicians all held the fort in those instances). Despite these minor issues, the slip ups were simply dismissed by the performers, or incorporated into the show, and if an ad-lib fell flat then it was simply shrugged off as part of the characters.
Finally, the only other minor issue was the audience. Cabaret is definitely known for having audiences that do not sit still like in an opera – but there is a certain level of politeness that really should be extended to the performers. If you are constantly canoodling your boyfriend or chatting with your friend at an audible level, don’t go to a show. Fortunately the performers were all professional enough to not get distracted, but even so there were times you could see a minor flicker of the eyes towards the distraction (especially when someone had to leave mid-show – and they were in the middle of the row). But then perhaps this reviewer has spent too much time going to non-cabaret shows.
The Teitelbaums were good and could keep the energy going, and they were backed by a strong musical trio and a solid sound/lighting guy. Although the audience were a little unruly, the energy and light-hearted nature of the show was able to keep everything in order while providing top quality entertainment and a good vibe. Definitely check it out if you get the chance!
The Illegitimate Love Children of Bob Downe and Magda Szubanski is on at 9.15pm at the Melba until 29 September 2018 as part of Melbourne Fringe. Tickets are available from the Melbourne Fringe website.