Performance review: Spooktacular, Sue Benner Theatre

A cabaret treat on the spookiest night of the year.
spooktacular. Image is illustration of two ghosts beside two people performing into mics to three ibises against a circular multicoloured backdrop with the silhouette or a large spooky hand across it.

The first of Metro Arts’ One Night Stand events, Spooktacular was a variety cabaret where even the audience had an act in the show.

Brisbaret brought the best of Brisbane cabaret acts together for one night of cute spooky comedy. Metro Arts couldn’t have picked a more fitting show for the 31 October and it would have been hard pressed to program this show on any other date.

Co-hosts Sophie Banister and Thien Pham introduced the evening by explaining how the night would run. With simple set and lighting elements, it felt less “spooktacular” and more open mic night at the comedy club, but what they lacked in scary they made up for in enthusiasm. 

Celebrating all things Halloween, the performers were having just as much fun as the audience. With a costume and cake competition in the second half, there was variety for all. 

The band Whalehouse kicked off the show with a kooky mix of songs such as ‘Big Ant’ and ‘Fresh Bread’, setting the tone for the acts to come. The trio had a whiff of a punk rock version of musical comedy legends Tripod.

Charlie Love then performed his mix of acrobatics and pole dancing, with the scariest thing about his act being the flimsy free-standing dancing pole he had to perform on. It may have received the biggest shriek of the night when one side began to lift from the ground while he was spinning on it.

Anna Straker made her Metro Arts debut with a goblinesque tooth-fairy telling a cautionary tale about a boy who ate teeth. Her storytelling was captivating and would entertain both young and old.

But there was no doubt this was an adult show. With songs about lefties taking over, Banister and Pham kept the crowd entertained with comedy sketches between acts. 

Hot Brown Honey duo Harrison and Andre brought the boys to the stage with their Aussie humour and crowd consensual thrusting. Borishkiva put the “wo” in woman with her rich vocals giving depth to some of her more outlandish comedy.

For the audience there was a Halloween costume and cake competition to participate in, where the public strutted their outfits on stage to win the prize of being allowed to judge the best cake between Banister’s Bin Chicken, Pham’s Frankenstein and Harrison and Andre’s “homemade” mud cake. 

This made the One Night Stand event drag on a bit too long into the night, but the finale brought all the acts together for a spooktacular send-off. 

Brisbaret is an ideal concept to show off local artists; leaning into the local variety show concept could see many artists’ careers take off from it.

Read: Video work review: Angela Tiatia: The Dark Current, ACMI 

Metro Arts supports artists from the ground up and it’s clear that a diverse community of artists are showcasing their work here. These One Night Stand events give us a teaser of what’s on offer in the Brisbane arts scene.

Spooktacular was part of Metro Arts One Night Stand events

Presented by Metro Arts and Brisbaret
Sue Benner Theatre 
Host, Writer and Producer: Sophie Banister
Co-host, Musician: Thien Pham 
Performers: Borishkiva. Anna Straker, Harrison & Andre, Whalehouse, Charlie Love

Spooktacular was performed for one night only on 31 October 2023.

Lisette Drew is a writer, theatre maker and youth literature advocate, who has worked nationally and overseas on over 50 theatrical productions. Her play, Breakwater, was shortlisted for two playwriting awards and her novel The Cloud Factory was longlisted for The Hawkeye Prize. In 2022 she received a Kill Your Darlings Mentorship and was a City of Melbourne Writer-in-Residence. Lisette shares her love for stories and storytelling running writing and theatre workshops for children.