Tuesday, June 19, 2018


Cast A Dark Shadow.  Carla Lippis

The Festival Theatre Stage. Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Adelaide Festival Centre. June 15-16 2018

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

Carla Lippis performs Cast A Dark Shadow at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival

 Grab onto your chairs. You're in for a wild ride. Carla Lippis slinks onto stage like a cat about to claw its prey. In a clinging black jump suit and with dark painted eyes beneath her Louise Brooks hairstyle, Lippis is demoniacal in her contorted menace. Her audience is her prey and she casts her net wide to entrap the fascination and lure the unsuspecting into her world of shadows and frenzy.Her voice is the steel trap that holds the mesmerized audience in her lair, a beast lurking in the shadows of punk, bursting into the enticing lyrical or circling with the Siren's original voice or full throated growl.

"Scary is the new sexy" Lippis says as she enters the audience to tease and confront, scare and weave her seductive spell across the space. On stage her band builds to a frenzy, and pianist, Victoria Falconer magically plays the theramyne, sending the notes into a shrill air. and drawing then back to a melodic note that lingers tantalizingly before again being cast into the light. It is the first time that I have seen musicians use the theramyne to entice emotions and send them spinning across the stage.It's power is pervasive. Lippis moves as one possessed and her voice rises from deep below to sound the cry of rebellion and defiance. 

Cabaret is the voice of the outcasts, the underdogs, the marginalized and the outrageous individual rebels against conformity. Lippis is their grand priestess, an icon of defiance and devilry, scaring the conservative, frightening the judgemental and singing out for those who have no voice.
But cabaret is also more than gesture, more than an attitude wrapped in rebellion. It is the language of the song, singing upon the music of the band. In the intimacy of the Festival Theatre stage, I was absorbed by the theatre, the presence, the voice, but the lyrics blurred, lost in the sheer dynamism of Lippis's performance. The key to attitude, to theme and message was swallowed in her sound. Lippis is an unique and dynamic performer. I only wish I had better understood the lyrics to understand the message of her song.  

To see Lippis is to imagine the possession of the Bacchae, ensnared in  Dionysian obsession. Rock,punk and original songs fuse with a gripping theatricality. A spellbound audience is entrapped in Lippis's hypnotic snare. For many, that is enough to lure them willingly into the shadow to see the light. But words are beacons too, the songwriter's other song. A performance of such power and originality, erupting from the shadows still needs to ensure that it does not thrust its lyics into the darkness.      .