Monday, June 12, 2023



It’s A Sin. Songs of Love and Shame.

Conceived and created by Michael Griffiths. Directed by Dean Bryant. Adelaide Cabaret Festival. The Space Theatre. Adelaide Festival Theatre. June 10 2023

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins


Michael Griffiths is approaching his half century. It is a time for reflection and reminiscence. It is a time to consider one’s identity, who we are, where we’ve come from and where we might be going. Nowhere is this more significant for anyone who may be considered different by some accepted norm. As he approaches fifty, Griffiths, Adelaide’s highly revered and admired cabaret talent, has chosen to use his art to tell his story. The title of his show It’s a Sin. Songs of Love and Shame is taken from the synth-pop duo’s  The Pet Shop Boys, formed by Neil Tennent and Chris Lowe.  The first verse is a testimony to the struggle for the young man confronting his sexuality as a gay person. The lyrics form the prologue to Griffiths’ own story.and the stories of all LBGTQI people.:

When I look back on my life

It’s always with a sense of shame

I’ve always been the one to blame

 For everything I long to do

No matter where or when or who

Has one thing in common too

It's a, it's a, it's a, it's a sin

It’s a sin

Everything I’ve ever done

Everything I ever do

Every place I’ve ever been

Everywhere I’m going to

It’s a sin

 Griffith’s story resonates with the impact of personal experience. He recounts the confusion, the shame, the closeted concealment and the pervasive impact of a time when the world was ravaged by the AIDS epidemic and its horrifying impact on gay men. He tells of his attempts to fit into the private school’s expectation of marriage, children and a prosperous career. We are told of his teenage heterosexual experience, his struggle with bullying and the eventual discovery of his tribe at the Flinders Music School where he met his lifetime partner, Daryl.

 It’s a Sin. Songs of Love and Shame is a beautifully told confessional in anecdote and song. But it is so much more than this. It is a tender and true love story. It is an affirmation of honest identity. It is an anthem to compassion, tolerance and understanding. It is a personal story but it is also everybody’s story who has ever felt the shame of society’s judgement. Griffiths is a masterful raconteur and a master of the art of cabaret.

This is a transformative performance with the power of affirmation. Griffiths is superbly backed by fiddler Julian Ferraretto and bass player Dylan Paul and at the end of the performance his lifelong partner enters the stage to accompany Griffiths on piano as he sings the final number to close his deeply personal and touching story.  This is one world premiere at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival that deserves a national tour. If it ever comes your way, don’t miss it.

Photos by Claudio Rascella