Adelaide Fringe 2014

Paul McDermott – The Dark Garden

0 Comments 17 February 2014

Paul McDermott – The Dark Garden 

Reviewed by Ineke Mules

Paul McDermott is a man of many talents. He is a painter, a poet, a singer and a renowned stand-up comic. Seeing these all come together for an evening of cabaret was going to be fascinating at the least.

Perhaps best known as the wry host of satirical panel show Good News Week, you would be forgiven for thinking you had walked into the wrong show. Under a strikingly eerie backdrop of his own creation, McDermott (looking very much the part in his red velvet tux) and his four-piece band take us on a seventy-minute journey through the five-stages of grief. The Dark Garden, he explains, is a metaphor for his own recent experience with loss. The sombre tone is palpable throughout the show, so those expecting a night of Doug Anthony All Stars-style humour may be left feeling somewhat disenchanted.

As a performer, McDermott demonstrates a tangible connection to his material; he penned each song based on his personal experiences, with each representing a different stage of grief. Some are upbeat and catchy, while others take on a much darker quality. It’s a world away from his usual irreverent stand-up routine, but it’s refreshing to see a different side to one of the Adelaide Fringe’s most recognised artists.

For anybody unaware of the comic’s singing ability, his voice is certainly impressive; in fact its self-proclaimed “transcendent beauty” is almost funny when compared to what comes out of his mouth in-between songs. For all the apparent doom and gloom, McDermott doesn’t completely hold back on his familiar black-humour and mischievous attitude. He regularly engages the audience with entertaining anecdotes ranging from the time he witnessed a highly unusual cabaret act in Blackpool involving an unfortunate goose, to his accidental consumption of his wife’s unique pest control method.

It’s far from being light entertainment, but The Dark Garden is a truly unique and moving show that is certainly worth an evening out.

 Paul McDermott – The Dark Garden, Adelaide Town Hall, 15 Feb

 

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