I’ve almost entirely avoided Sydney Fringe this year, but on the final weekend of the Festival I was tempted along to Keira Daley’s Slapdash Song Night, a semi-regular variety show which has featured in the Fringe Festival for the last few years. It was doubly tempting because throughout the Fringe Festival, Slapdash Song Night ran back-to-back with a new revue by Daley, best known for her cabaret work such as Ladynerd and performances with Squabbalogic independent musical theatre.
Each Slapdash Song Night follows a particular theme and the final Fringe night was “Big, Dumb ’90s”. Daley, along with co-host Peter Lead take the audience through a number of segments (including a songwriting battle) and appearances from special guests, many of whom are appearing in their own Fringe shows.
There’s something which feels strangely cultish when Daley asks the audience what the motto of Slapdash Song Night is and a sizeable chunk shout back “singy-sing, talky-talk, drinky-drink!” but that’s essentially what the show is. Daley interviews the various guests who then perform their songs which must keep to the theme of the evening. And it’s in a gorgeous cabaret venue with some gorgeous cocktails, so drinking is advised.
The very talented Bryce Halliday (who has his own show at Sydney Fringe Comedy this year) and Helen Perris went head-to-head with two deliciously funny ’90s tunes in the songwriting battle. Fiona Pearson and Jack Yabsley’s comedy act Cool 2B Kind put in a particularly funny appearance — a sharp and ribald parody of religious educators/entertainers — and soul singer Billie McCarthy stole the show with an impossibly cool rendition of a 90s-ish R Kelly song.
As for There’s No One New Around You – a Tinder Musical … a Fringe Festival show with that title would usually have more running for the door, but given the talents of the performers involved, I decided to take a chance. I’m glad that I did — it’s typical late night Fringe fare: an obvious but very funny revue best enjoyed with a few drinks under your belt.
The songs, written by Daley, co-star Mark Simpson, and accompanist Steven Kreamer use some silly, irreverent but often clever rhymes to win laughs, and they’re tuneful pastiches of contemporary musical theatre performed with plenty of style and expression. Daley and Simpson are perfectly in step as their various characters, with one memorable scene featuring Daley as a tough inmate who’s managed to attract Simpson along to a Prison date.
The season is now over, but Daley and Simpson are keen to bring it back in other formats. It plays very well for an audience of people familiar with the foibles of online dating and goes deeper below the surface than you might expect — one sketch sees Daley on a date with a headless torso, which ends up quietly saying a little something about human insecurity. Just don’t make the mistake of taking a Tinder date to this show: the insights hit a little too close to home.