Wednesday, 04 September 2013 15:16

Songs For The Fallen: Theatre In Preview

The stellar cast of part punk/ part opera ‘Songs For The Fallen’ is set to enchant Brisbane Festival audiences.

“It's big, brassy, and rambunctious theatre that gets really naughty — but it's also quite poignant because it's a real story of a woman dying.”

This is Sheridan Harbridge's — director, writer and performer of 'Songs For The Fallen' — own explanation of the sassy pop-opera romp that is premiering on Queensland stages at this year's Brisbane Festival.

'Songs For The Fallen' is the story of Marie Duplessis, the legendary Parisian party girl who rose from rags to riches within a few short years, only to die a lonely death at age 23. Harbridge explains that the performance has “done a terrible thing of of making a comedy out of someone's death”.

She goes on to explain that the archetype of Marie Duplessis has been used and abused as a love story – the 19th Century French courtesan has inspired works such as Baz Luhrmann's 'Moulin Rouge', and the classic story of 'The Lady Of The Camellias' – however, Duplessis "didn't die in the arms of her lover … she died alone, and very poor ... the real tragedy of this woman's life is not to be disrespected.”

Despite the tragic undertones of 'Songs For The Fallen', the performance is decadent, sexy, and fun. It's an eclectic mixture of cabaret, opera, comedy and vaudeville. To top it off, AFI-winning composer Basil Hogios (who did the soundtrack for 'Romulus, My Father') has perfected a baroque pop-score for Duplessis' story.

Harbridge, who wrote the performance and also plays Marie Duplessis, was last year's Sydney Cabaret Showcase winner. But cabaret is not Harbridge's sole field of performance. She explains that there are limits in cabaret's ability to tell a good story, but it's great as it allows for the audience to be “harassed but at the same time not feel too confronted ... you really want [the audience] to be listening but not wishing that they hadn't sat in the front.”

This is why Harbridge chose to give Duplessis a cabaret persona. 

For those who may have seen 'Songs For The Fallen' while it was being staged in Sydney, never fear, the Brisbane performance has been developed a bit further, and there is also a new member to the cast. Also “vocally it's different, there are ... new moments in the songs,” Harbridge explains.

Brisbane Festival director, Noel Staunton describes 'Songs For The Fallen' as a “devilishly good production ... [it's] a tantalising theatrical extravaganza that leaves audiences wanting more.”

‘Songs For The Fallen’ hits Metro Arts from Sept 19 to 22 as part of Brisbane Festival.

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