The bizarre meets the macabre and the maudlin in The Broken Mill. Through original song, storytelling and mime, six performers and four band members tell the tale of the manipulative and murderous Mama (Sarah Wall).
She has taken in the destitute and disenfranchised and pulled together a cabaret involving misfits and mould breakers. Some are convinced she genuinely cares about them, but others are not … with good reason. Mama vets their mail and exploits the situation she is in at every opportunity.
And that includes denying dancer Little Bird (Emily Deague-Hall) the opportunity to visit her mother … with disastrous consequences. Mary (Jake Matricardi) and Marcus (Cole McKenna) are joined at the hip, but don’t see eye to eye. One knows Mama is up to no good, while the other has blind faith in her.
Jeanie (Cat Sanzaro) is a clairvoyant who has a portent of doom. She will expose the real Mama and her nefarious past. Mr Pitiful (Ryan Smith) is a clown with a kind heart, generous spirit and a drinking problem. Before the night is over, we – the audience – will be witness to greed, scandal, treachery, an inferno and death most foul.
Inspired by shows such as Moulin Rouge, Cabaret and Chicago, it is the work of Picked Last For Sport. The talent is striking – faces painted white, all except Mama (who has on a shimmering red dress) are dressed in black and/or white, but each radically different.
The clown with red nose is a standout, adorned in polka dots on one side and stripes on the other. He is front and centre when, without speaking, he “kills” and then memorialises a balloon dog. Funny stuff.
In fact, all have their time to shine. Individually and collectively, they sing 12 tunes that help propel the storyline. They harmonise well, with choreography to boot. Mary, in particular, seems in his/her element, a natural entertainer who delivers with aplomb.
This little walk on the wild side, complete with absinthe, is a journey worth taking for those who are keen to step outside their comfort zone. I, for one, appreciated the diverse nature of the offering. The Broken Mill is ready for its final performance and the only thing missing is you.
It is playing at Chapel off Chapel on 27th June at 9pm as part of the Melbourne Cabaret Festival. For more information about the Festival, go to www.melbournecabaret.com
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- Lennox: Legend in my Living Room (Chapel off Chapel)
- Amity Dry’s 39 Forever (Chapel off Chapel) – theatre review
- Britney Spears: The Cabaret (Chapel off Chapel) – theatre review
Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.