‘Babushka Regifted’ was liberating.
If your favourite parts of Christmas are devouring a cheese platter, drinking through family gatherings and dismantling the patriarchy, then it’s time to let out your inner Scrooge and get set for Babushka Regifted to be your new Yuletide tradition.
Following rapturous successes at the Queensland and Melbourne Cabaret Festivals, cabaret trio Babushka have successfully continued to jingle those bells as they celebrate all that is Grinchy about the jolly season at Brisbane’s Metro Arts Theatre.
Metro Arts was a perfectly intimate setting for this Christmas cabaret. Decked with Christmas presents, illuminated baubles, an elf on the shelf and the world’s largest advent calendar, the simple set design by Penny Challen cleverly teased the relaxed yet unapologetically hilarious show to follow.
Babushka writers and performers, Alicia Cush, Laura Coutts and Judy Hainsworth entered the set adorned in cloaks with a classical rendition of ‘Carol of the Bells’ before revealing beautiful sparkling dresses and a remixed show of modern hits and classic carols updated with a refreshing injection of feminism.
Cementing the show as not your average, Mariah Carey belting festive concert was a parody of Green Day’s ‘Wake Me Up When September Ends’ to kick off the show, but rather than September, this version resented the final month of the year. Other hilarious performances included, ‘Walking in the Air’ while dressed as inflatable snowmen, a spin on Kelis’ ‘Milkshake’ with a ‘my fruitcake brings all the boys to the yard’, and a warning about sitting on Santa’s lap through Nick Cave’s ‘Red Right Hand’. The trio also dazzled audiences with their tight harmonies and stunning vocals in a Madonna mash up. The musical arrangements by Cush and Jake Bristow created the perfect platform to serve up the most wonderful Christmas present of beautiful vocals, unbridled sass and infectious energy.
A unique aspect of this production was the soft audience participation through ‘Festivus’, Babushka’s answer to Christmas therapy. The Babushka trio read out audience written Christmas grievances that included: a communal hatred for drunk e-scooter riders, overplayed Christmas songs beginning in November (think of the retail workers!) and the universal hatred the world feels when “Alan Rickman chose that TART over Emma Thompson” in beloved Christmas movie ‘Love Actually’. A sweet festive touch was that the favourite responses won Babushka merch including branded water bottles and dazzling gold prawn earrings.
A key feature of this show was a ‘sleigh the patriarchy’ theme. We journeyed with the ‘Three Wise Queens’ on their voyage through the CBD to reach the Christmas charcuterie, and joyfully belted out from the hymn hyrr book a reworked ‘Deck the Halls’ and ponder who really cooked the feast of Stephen in ‘Good Queen Wenceslas’ aided by a Church style lyric PowerPoint to ensure full audience enthusiasm. Complete with festive, ‘Sleigh the Patriarchy’ t-shirts (that I so wished had been on sale at the merch stand), this theme of the show was irreverent and added an extra level of depth to this hilarious cabaret.
Cush, Coutts and Hainsworth delivered outstanding performances, working cohesively as a unit but also bringing their own unique energy to the show.
Cush delivered sultry jazz vocals, flexed her flute skills and brought the hilarious, sassy fed-up-mother persona to the group.
Coutts was entrancing and offered stunning soprano notes to the stage. She adopted the slightly ditsy comedic persona and brought the house down with her commentary on what makes her fruit cake so special.
Rounding out the trio was pocket rocket, Hainsworth. Hainsworth presented the most animated performance from her physicality to her intense gaze over the audience. It was impossible to not be drawn in by Hainsworth’s enigmatic performance and be reduced to fits of laughter. Hainsworth also demonstrated some of the most powerful vocals of the night.
Backing the Babushka babes was jazz trio, Jake Bristow and the Baby Cheeses on the keys, drums and bass guitar/double bass. The band enhanced the cheeky atmosphere of the show and added real groove to the witty ditties. Bristow also showcased his singing chops with a comedic, 2022 appropriate rendition of ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ with Hainsworth.
‘Babushka Regifted’ is a Christmas cracker of a show! Tinseled with magical musical arrangements, witty parodies, spirited home truths, and a liberating sprinkle of female empowerment, ‘Babushka Regifted’ is everything you could ever want in a cabaret show. Babushka is certainly a group to watch and I’d encourage all theatre lovers to make tickets to a Babushka show top of their Christmas list.
Babushka Regifted had a strictly limited season at Metro Arts until Saturday 17th December. To keep up to date with Babushka’s upcoming performances head to the Little Match Production’s website.