Review: After Midnight, The Cabaret – Paddo RSL (NSW)

Produced by Sydney Humphries, Directed and Choreographed by Sydney Humphries and Ryan Smith

Review by Justin Clarke

Paddo RSL explodes for a night of seductive, mind-bending dance and movement. Produced and directed by Sydney Humphries and choreography by Humphries and Ryan Smith, After Midnight presents an energy filled night of cabaret.

Set in the performance space atop Paddo RSL in Sydney’s Oxford Street, Humphries transports us into a world of seduction. As we enter, tables are lit with candles which added to the red hue toned atmosphere of the space. Despite a few renovations needed in the venue itself, the setting feels perfectly fit for a cabaret styled night of dance. Audience members drink and feast in the anticipation of the evening’s performance. Most seemed to be supporters of the nine performers of the night, others seemed open to experience something new.

The second act of the performance lived up to its “adults only” description. Beginning with a congregation of stripped down bodies on a French chaise lounge, the allure and seduction had us drooling.

Helmed by Humphries and Smith, the two lead a cast of nine strong dancers and performers. Maria Richman, Michael Boyle, Chanel Cheung, Georgie Fabien, Many Sarswat, Lyndon Frykberg and Justine McKelvie take us through the scattering of performances that make up the cabaret.

Beginning with Richman’s drag queen stylings, the first half of the show seemed to be set in a 20’s style lounge, featuring a small selection of stories. Richman runs on late to her evening, checking an oversized clock before becoming outraged at the lack of champagne in her glass before passing the stage over to the evenly spread mix of male and female dancers.

The four strappingly built men swing onto the stage with an allure for all the members of the audience to feast on before the curtain opens to reveal the bewitching females strutting into view. What follows is a well split show that focuses on lifts and swings, a smattering of tap and ballet stylings in the first act, followed by a more stripped back “adults only” cabaret in the second.

Perhaps the strongest of all the performers was Ryan Smith. The sheer feats of movement that Smith produced made myself and other audience members gasp. From barani flips, to swinging up and down his fellow performers before creating inhuman shapes in mid-air, Smith was astonishing to watch.

The second act of the performance lived up to its “adults only” description. Beginning with a congregation of stripped down bodies on a French chaise lounge, the allure and seduction had us drooling. With some humorous numbers thrown in from Richman as she wandered into and stroked against the audience, the second act continued the energy set up from the first.

Something that I found increasingly overwhelming was the sound levels used in the production. Right from the beginning, the sound blasting out of the speakers above the stage was extraordinarily loud. Perhaps this was just where we sat, but in some of the numbers which used high pitched orchestral or saxophones, even those sitting beside us covered their ears due to the levels. This, coupled with the intense use of haze that was continuously pumped onto the stage and blurred the action against the back of the stage, made for some uncomfortable viewing at times.

Despite a few technical issues that could have been reduced with attention to detail during tech runs, After Midnight, the Cabaret was an enjoyable evening that lured us out of Sydney’s Oxford Street and into a tantalising performance with some rather impressive choreography.

Reviewer Rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

After Midnight, The Cabaret played at the Paddo RSL from 11th-12th March 2022. Follow the After Midnight Cabaret journey on their socials on Facebook and Instagram – @aftermidnight_thecabaret

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