This review appeared on DailyReview on 4 August 2014, for Lady Sings it Better’s Hayes Theatre Co Opening Night.
Australian all-girl cabaret/comedy group Lady Sings it Better has been around for nearly five years now, travelling across Australia and around the world, picking up legions of fans at comedy festivals and fringe festivals as they go. Those fans were out in full force at the group’s first night at Sydney’s Hayes Theatre — familiar with the old material and lapping up the new.
The concept for their act is quite simple — the four ladies (down from their past line-up of six) perform songs originally performed by men as a feminist statement. Through their renditions, they expose the disturbing and hilarious lyrics which have been sitting right under our nose for years. They’re usually delivering the lyrics with a subtle wink and a nod, or just a straight-forward reading, but it’s all about where they lay the emphasis.
Despite such a simple concept, they seem spoiled for choice in terms of material; everything from Tom Jones’ murderous Delilah to Usher’s hilariously explicit Dive.
It doesn’t hurt that all four have fine voices and are backed by a superb three-piece band. It’s not just about the laughs — the musical elements are all first class — quite often, the ladies actually do sing it better.
The performers on stage — Maeve Marsden, Chandra Franken, Libby Wood and Anna Martin — each have their moments in the spotlight, but it’s when they’re bouncing off each other that they’re at their riotous best. They’ve all carved out their own places within the group, and the dynamic is endlessly smooth and fascinating.
Of course, some songs are more successful than others, but this is a group that apparently regularly switches up their set list. Among the comedic highlights are a re-imagined Stacy’s Mom and Shaggy’s It Wasn’t Me. But there are plenty of musical highlights too, including an a capella rendition of Britney Spears’ Womanizer entirely in close harmonies and a George Michael medley. But then songs like Robin Thicke’s undeniably “rapey” Blurred Lines end up being quite unsettling when we’re forced to really listen to the lyrics. They’re definitely getting their point across.
When they deliver a set as hilarious and musically satisfying as they did at the Hayes, it’s easy to see why these ladies have been going strong for five years.
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