Adelaide’s Carla Lippis returns to the Fringe for a second year, holding court in the intimate and elegant confines of the Boards, and though this is an inspired fit, from the moment her presence is made known, one cannot help but picture her on a larger stage. She certainly has the charisma for it, and could easy carve herself a place in a Lynch or Tarantino film – her macabre wit, femme fatale physicality and lyrical voyages through the deep, dark depths of sorrow, vengeance, power and pleasure all coalescing into a bold and ecstatic film-noir character, not quite of our time.
Guitarist Geoff Crowther channels Dick Dale, Chuck Berry and Josh Homme in his wild, technically accomplished playing. A parallel can be drawn between the jagged clean tone of his Fender Jaguar and Lippis’ voice; smooth as silk, but when provoked, ferocious and Cobain-esque. Nirvana’s Lithium arrives halfway through the set, among a selection of originals and other covers, the gorgeous piano of Vicky Falconer-Pritchard accompanying Lippis’ wistful and playful take on the grunge classic. For the most part, the trio’s original material is as entertaining and well received as the covers, aside from a few cliche lyrics.
Genre is traversed with ease, and the two musicians provide tasteful accompaniment for Lippis’ stunning vocals. Their sound is melancholic and melodic with an undercurrent of menace, utilising a vintage drum machine and a pulsating theremin solo to excellent effect while Lippis briefly disappears to change. This is a highly authentic performance rooted in the glamour of the 50s, the decadence of early rock ‘n’ roll, the raw power of Iggy Pop and the sensual, gothic grandeur of Nick Cave. Cast A Dark Shadow doesn’t re-invent the wheel, but it does offer an unpredictable, thrilling and unorthodox cabaret voyage.
Words: Fraser MacIntyre
Picture: Ayesha Hussein
Cast A Dark Shadow by Carla Lippis, The Boards, Aug 23-26 (not 24), times vary