Monday, June 19, 2017


Dusty Limits. Photograph by Clive Holland

Dusty Limits. Grin.

 Written by Dusty Limits. Musical Director and Composer. Michael Roulston. The Artspace. Adelaide Festival Centre, Adelaide Cabaret Festival. June 16 and 17. 2017

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

At a festival where many artists are interpreting and singing the songs of others in the delivery of excellent covers, it is refreshing and uniquely satisfying to see an artist, who performs original material with wit, elan and a voice that that can range across three octaves and carry an audience along with his song and his message.

Dusty Limits saunters casually onto the tiny stage of the Artspace after a rousing introduction by his musical director, composer and long-time friend Michael Roulston at the piano.  I had seen him swaggering with a bottle in hand during a Cole Porter number at The Backstage Club the night before.  Grin recalls the traditional art of cabaret, satirical and scathing in Dusty Limits’ satire soaked songs of wine, death and monkeys.  And children devoured by Satan in Goya’s demonic painting. At times dark and foreboding in Nobody’s Fool; cynical in Is It Too Late - To Abort Me or devilishly satirical in Poor. Grin is a wry and pensive commentary on life, its absurdity, its deceptive contradiction and bitter irony. Accompanied by the virtuoso playing of Michael Roulston , Dusty Limits ‘ Grin smirks at the Russian Oligarchs of NW3, smiles at the drunk and lonely, leers at life and grimaces at the Edinburgh Fringe, “that graveyard of hope”. His is the art of Swiftian satire (“not Tayler”), a giant of the cabaret , striding among the Lilliputians of Life. The wry resignation of Porter, the political snipe of Weil, the despondent air of desperation in Waits or the snappy mockery of Coward all find voice in this beguiling one handed juggler of the cabaret.

Grin is cabaret with fangs, snapping at life like the vicious terrier beneath the chair in Reunion, serving up wit with bite, “the ball is in your Margaret Court.”,sighing with longing while cruising Unter den Linden  and slowly letting the grin recede with the hope of making us smile.

The hour is over far too soon and the Svengali of Cabaret leaves me not bewildered but beguiled by his art. Dorian Black, the boy from Brisvegas, is Dusty Limits, the King  of Cabaret. The Australian premiere is gone and one can only hope for his return.