Sunglasses at Night: The 80s Apocalypse Sing Along Cabaret begins with Geraldine Quinn running across the stage in order to perform a voiceover from backstage: ‘Don’t panic, I just have to get back here to start the show!’
This sets the tone for the warm, informal and interactive performance, just as the opening slideshow, accompanied by Quinn’s faux eastern bloc accent, sets the scene for her decidedly apocalyptic take on the 80s: AIDS, Nuclear War, The Berlin Wall. And of course, Midge Ure.
Quinn begins sing-along with a generic call-and-response for ‘Sunglasses at Night’ including plenty of asides lampooning the ridiculous, nonsensical lyrics. Quinn uses a combination of cheeky threats, jokes and ‘crap prizes’ to get everyone started, however this participatory element is never uncomfortable or forced. The dynamic and banter between Quinn, pianist Cameron Thomas and their audience is charming and creates a sense of community.
Throughout the night Quinn’s commentary simultaneously mocks and celebrates the stilted pretension of the music, the clothes and the video clips of a line up of 80s hits. Her voice has an incredible range and she modulates it for both imitation and comic effect. Pat Benetar, Kate Bush, Bonnie Tyler, The Human League and Boomtown Rats are all part of her repertoire. Not to mention Nena’s ‘99 Luftballons’ in the original German. Wth her dance moves, expressions, and slideshow of hand drawn cartoons and misheard lyrics, it is an utterly engrossing performance and it’s almost easy to forget that you too, should be singing.
Quinn’s tongue in cheek affection for the period is infectious and this interactive cabaret draws the audience into her world and gets them singing, laughing and wearing liquorice allsorts – no mean feat for a freezing Friday in winter. The audience enjoys the show so much that they refuse to let Quinn leave and she is compelled to do a second encore.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Geraldine Quinn – Sunglasses at Night: The 80s Apocalypse Sing Along Cabaret
Chapel Off Chapel, Little Chapel St, Prahran
27 – 29 June