Monday, November 6, 2023



Under the Influence  with John Shortis, Moya Simpson and Michael Simic. 

Directed by Tracey Bourne. Featuring the Reprobates – Matt Nightingale on Bass, John Jones on drums and Dave O’Neill on guritar and violin. The Q Theatre. November 3-4 2023

 Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

 I am still smiling and tapping my feet after coming under the influence. That is the Influence of Shortis and Simpson, Michael Simic and The Reprobates in an evening of brilliant cabaret and personal revelations. Under The Influence is an evening of songs that reveal the inspiration behind the music and song of Moya Simpson from Twickenham, John Shortis from Sysney and Michael Simic from Canberra. But as the eveing unfolds we learn that Simpson would go to gigs by the likes of Manfred Mann and the Rolling Stones and discover the joy of harmonizing in Bulgarian songs. Shortis had a light bulb moment when his father taught him about chords. He would save money to buy a piano and play on it in his backyard shed. Well before founding the Black Sea Gentlemen, Simic would be inspired by his father’s love of Westerns and his own fascination with playing the drums. From small things big things grow and this musical trio has carved out careers blasting with talent. Shortis did a primary teaching course at Wollongong University only to throw it all away and find his passion by joining a band. When told that she couldn’t enter a club to see a band because she was wearing Mod trousers Simpson simply took them off and her future was assured. And Simic learnt the power of empathy as he watched his father struggle through a difficult life. And through it all, all three discovered the power of music and song. With the backing of The Reprobates, Simpson, Shortis and Simic take the audience through the songs that inspired them and launched their own particular style of music. Shortis became fascinated by chords and demonstrates the similarity in chord structure in both the Snowy River Roll and Cliff Richard’s Bachelor Boy. Simpson reveals her fascination with the two Barbra Streisand  LPs she owned My Barbra 1 and My Barbra 2. Simic creates his own medley of Nick Cave, Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen

Michael Simic is guest artist for Under The Influence
 Director Tracey Bourne has kept the creative force of the trio contained in a tight show that illustrates the unique talent of each artist. It is Simic however who takes this show to an entirely higher level and Shortis and Simpson rise to the occasion. With butane boosted charisma that fills the stage Simic lends Under The Influence turbo powered talent. Whether swivelling the hips to Viva Dubrovnick as Johnny English,catching the sounds of his Croatian heritage on the piano accordion, supporting Simpson’s Balkan song or Shortis’s witty lyrics or prancing gaily across the stage in fitness guru  Richard Simmons’ ridiculous drag. Simic’s rich baritone voice seems to erupt from the earth’s  core.

In a show that runs for almost two hours the audience is not only treated to an entertaining evening of music and song from three popular and talented artists but also  made privy to  the secrets that fuelled their passion  and made Shortis and Simpsons the darlings of satirical music and song and Michael  Mikey into the the beloved Mickelangelo of the Black Sea Gentleman. Add to this mix the talents of The Reprobates and you have an evening that had the audience completely under their influence.