Jacintergrating is … um… Entertainavating!
Jacinta Gregory has constructed an entertaining show full of carefully balanced variety, terrific singing with great music and loads of promise. Beginning with a very well penned, funny yet sort of sad, opening song about Gregory’s depression and ending with a full downer ballad about her struggles, the show has Gregory’s singing and original material at its centre.
And she writes really well. The songs, short and snappy in the main, have a wistful ring beneath their wry look at life. It’s light with an occasional hint of something deeper but not taking itself too seriously. There is no shortage of satire either. Getting an audience on her side to singalong with a racist ditty about nationalism was really clever.
Gregory neatly carries off several of these moments with warmth and confidence. Her patter and chatter are charming and move the show along, she has an amusing deadpan when she needs it and effusiveness when effusion is required. She speaks easily to the audience, gratefully takes her strokes where she can find them, is confident in her material yet can extemporise and respond to audience reactions, and has a really sweet voice. It wasn’t the best sound system to showcase her range, the tops were a bit tinny, but quality of her mezzo makes for really pleasant listening. And her diction is excellent, especially in the “It’s hard when…” song.
Gregory is not alone on stage. She has friends to help in some of the skit sections and a truly lovely little band. With double bassist, keyboard player and violin/guitarist, the backing is so well orchestrated.
The pizzicato from double bass and violin combined with Gregory’s stellar guitar picking to accompany a longing plea to a boy … really,really nice. And they look like they are having a great time too. So do the audience of friends and rellies. There is a very strong support base here but Gregory does not appear to rest on her laurels, there is considerable thought in how the show is put together.
She has an inter-generational audience in mind and it works brilliantly. I went with a younger friend and didn’t have to ask her anything. In fact it was she who had no idea who Harold Holt was and I had to whisper to her. Nice… I like a show that doesn’t restrict itself. Actually, that Holt song showcased one of Gregory’s innate strengths as a performer: her ability to slip in an out of emotional states and bring her audience with her on the ride. Several times we feel sad for her, or cringe for her, or relish her perverse delight in embarrassing her boyfriend. It’s a credit to the way in which she quickly garners audience empathy and brings you along. In that song she created true pathos then just as suddenly brought her audience into full comedy. It was clever technique.
As to the promise I mentioned? There are still elements that need adjusting and quite a bit of tightening. Better mic technique, better command of business and ditching some of the more immature skits would elevate JACINTEGRATING even further. Gregory appears to be a creator/ performer with drive and I really look forward to seeing what’s next from her.
JACINTEGRATING played for one night only, Saturday 11th March at The Factory in Marrickville.