Sunday, October 9, 2011

Slowboat to Chinamans

SLOWBOAT TO CHINAMANS created by Ian Mortimer, on board the Mulgi Ferry at Wharf 2 on a voyage around the environs of Sydney Harbour.

SLOWBOAT TO CHINAMANS is a cabaret/vaudeville show that takes place on a restored ferry, the MULGI, that takes leave from Wharf 2 to take a voyage around the environs of Sydney Harbour. It is an old fashioned "Theatre Restaurant" experience. Food, drink and entertainment. This could be a very pleasant way to spend a couple of hours for Christmas party celebrations and/or a unique tourist escapade.

Hosted, alternately, by George Washingmachine, Mic Conway or Ian Mortimer (they play alternate nights), featuring Gemma Lark, as a mime/dancer; Sebastian Rideaux as a magic man; and the remarkable Daryl Wallis, as piano man; and the even more remarkable Sheridan Harbridge as chanteuse, satirist and bon vivant, we had a rollicking old time on board the Mulgi, surrounded by the most beautiful harbour twinkling in the night.

Mr Washingmachine as Captain Ironbark  takes us on a tour of some of the harbour sites of history and gives us a mostly factual account of these places. We are given faux, mini-lectures, alluding to the severe convict practices of some of these destinations alongside amusing but 'true' bio-graphies of some famous, infamous characters and events from Sydney's past: Kate Leigh and Tilly Devine (exposed with no touches of Art Direction, so prevalent in the television  UNDERBELLY series, mostly instead, tantalizing cruel realities, possibly more convincing and interesting than the TV version) and a potted musical lecture on the politics and history of the construction of the iconic Sydney Opera House. In the program handout we are also told of James Squire and the set up of Sydney's first brewery, of  Beatrice "Bee" Miles, of Sister Ada Green, Rosaleen Norton and Florence Broadhurst.

All this 'history', (an intriguing gimmick), is wrapped in original lyrics and appetizingly curious songs from sailor jauntiness to jazz renditions, played with intense and amazing accompaniment by a very dexterous Daryl Wallis, who displays Olympian stamina and indefatigable good humour - he loves  what he does (or, at least appears too). An indispensable artist on this voyage of merriment. All the artists are a delight.

But for those of you who like to spot talent ( "I saw her when...." ), that with proper attention may become a legendary figure of the future, one must catch the divine flair of Ms Harbridge. Her looks, personality, quick, improvisational wittiness (reminds one of the wickedness of the great Barry Humphries in his interaction with an audience), satiric accuracy, delivered with a light but true musical voice of some real note, will be a bonus of joy and marvel as you glide around the harbour. The highlight of her generous performance has to be the History of the Sydney Opera House in original song lyrics supported wittily by musical quotations of great opera tunes, which Ms Harbridge pulls off in an astounding demonstration of talent. This rendition is breathtaking and worth the price of the ticket alone. The comedy is counterpointed by the reality of the real building dominating the foreshore as a backdrop for this wonderful artist and her supports. No expense is spared in the timing and display of her talent it seems!

The food is theatre restaurant fare, the spirits of the bar and crew and company all create a good night out. Just a little too long on our night, but if you want a comfortable old-fashioned night out, worth considering. Especially, as summer roles out her atmospheric glories in the long daylight saving beauty of the harbour.

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