BACKSTREET DIAMOND : FRINGE CABARET AT ITS BEST

What fun! BACKSEAT DIAMOND is exactly what I need in a Fringe Cabaret. Great characters, lots of laughs, fine singing and a conspiracy to boot! The brain child of Megan Kozak, the neatly written show has some terrific song choices. Lots of Motown and some soft rock, toe tappers and hands-in-the-air hits to the just sit back and enjoy soulful classics.

Beginning with ‘Aint No Mountain High Enough’ after a beehived, sexy split spangly dressed diva arrives to take her place at the back of the tiny stage. All the way at the back? At a lonely rear mic behind the 2 lead mics. Odd. And when the song starts there is something missing… the lyrics. Lovely orchestration by Mark ( Mark Chamberlain) at the keyboard but all we hear are the la la backing sounds. Something’s not right.

But not to worry, Mary is a charge taker. Since she was a young girl singing into her hairbrush she has yearned for this moment and with a “You don’t mind do you?” to the audience she launches in!

‘Son of a Preacher Man’ is terrific. Mary has a leading lady voice, yet with eerily prescriptive Motown backing singer choreo. This is the art behind the BACKSEAT DIAMOND. Mary is a fully expressed character, not just a vehicle for Kozack’s great voice. Kozak has written the character with an arc, a love interest and so much good will that we are rooting for her despite an early intimation that there is dirty work afoot in our missing lead singers, Eva and Donna.

Joined, somewhat unwillingly by Security guard Chris (Chris Wilcox) after a bit of tambourine biffo, Mary will win us over completely with a 50 minute set that includes audience participation, a career climber’s flair for the dramatic and the least sexy guitar neck stroking that we have ever seen. Chris turns out to be a honey tongued wielder of spoken song lyrics, a seducer. And Mary will use all her wiles to make sure she gets her shot as she brings us into her conspiracy and Chris is along for the ride.

And, surprise surprise Chris can sing, has a guitar nearby and has a pick in his pocket. Their duets are really lovely, the voice blend so good. Kudos too for the sound operator who did a lovely mix for such a difficult acoustic environment. Just enough reverb and some subtle reinforcing to keep Chris’ sweet tones in concert with Mary’s soaring soprano. Quality all round really in this show.

Songs like ‘I Heard it Through the Grapevine’; ‘Respect’; ‘You’re the Voice’ and ‘I’ve Never Been to Me’ are so enjoyable and with a highly entertaining storyline and engaging characters BACKSEAT DIAMOND is the perfect blend of froth and substance.

And the conspiracy? Sorry I can’t tell you. True to the clever storytelling of BACKSEAT DIAMOND the audience have been made co-conspirators. With our silence, Mary’s gumption and charming luminosity will get that fireman’s lift into her next big break.

BACKSEAT DIAMOND played as part of the Sydney Fringe.

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