The George and Svetlana Show: The Butterfly Club

'George and Svetlana' saunters along a precarious tightrope of cabaret that relies more on its comedic content than its musical appeal.
The George and Svetlana Show: The Butterfly Club
The George and Svetlana Show: The Butterfly Club Following the production of the commedia dell’Arte Alarm! for the 2008 Melbourne Fringe Festival, Debbie Zukerman and Celeste Markwell have reprised their characters, George and Svetlana Pantalone for a take on cabaret with a touch of improvisation. The characters, originally conceived for irreverent social commentary, are fish out of water in a cabaret setting. Add to this two performers who are not particularly accomplished singers, and George and Svetlana saunters along a precarious tightrope of cabaret that relies more on its comedic content than its musical appeal. Whereas for others this may have been a misstep, Zukerman and Markwell manage to turn deficiencies into charm, re-inventing the Pantalones as an old show-business couple at the end of a long tour, barely able to paper over the cracks of a failing relationship. The songs range from typical cabaret to an enchanting re-arrangement of a Ben Folds classic, all introduced (or interrupted) by partially improvised comedic vignettes that almost always hit the mark. The performers are supremely confident with their characters and, whilst this incarnation may have lacked some of the punch and more bawdy action that made Alarm! particularly enjoyable, they entertain comically, musically and physically. A highlight of the show are the two dance numbers that take advantage of the significant height difference between Zukerman and Markwell and give them a chance to throw each other around the tiny Butterfly Club stage. They are also an opportunity for “Guy on the Piano” (played by Dave Barclay) to shine; a talented pianist, he also lends his polished vocal talents to these sections. In The George and Svetlana Show, director Robin Davidson has created a quirky, punchy and fun evening of entertainment. The performers seem to enjoy themselves as much as the audience who chuckled along with them throughout. In cabaret, who could ask for more? The George and Svetlana Show runs until the 31st of May at The Butterfly Club, 204 Bank Street, South Melbourne. Bookings can be made through the venue on 03 9690 2000 or on The Butterfly Club’s website.

Paul Knox

Wednesday 27 May, 2009

About the author

Paul Knox is the Artistic Director of PMD Productions and a reviewer for ArtsHub.