Spooners for Crooners by Planet Clare
Review by Kathryn Barnes – 17 May 2019
Spooners for Crooners (or Crooners for Spooners in some spaces) is described as a “collection of reactive swoons that re-imagine the empty romantic antics of crooners past and present, recreated in spaces where the lights are low and the energy electric.” Berkelouw Books in Eumundi was such a space and an ideal venue. Musical instruments were tucked in an aisle with books towering either side facing wide stairs where the audience could lounge on cushions or sit atop the stairwell. It was laid back and relaxing.
In this show, Clare Cowley plays three people singing “their way” to find their style – Mack, Echo and finally Clare. Describing the art of the crooning genre, the three characters search for their inimitable chic with the help of Pene-lope, a crazy silicone-enhanced caricature, a wonderful characterisation performed by Genevieve, Clare’s offsider.
Clare croons her way in various singing styles and nationalities throughout the crooning ages with the French impression a highlight of her performance. Intriguingly different, the singing is backed up on bass and vocals skilfully by Stephen Meldrum. In bigger venues, the act consists of a larger ensemble. The songs were melodic, laidback and entertaining.
The songs are interspersed by interchanges with Pene-lope (you have to be there) which were funny but improvised and at times slightly awkward. Tightening these interactions with pace and purpose leading into the next song would help develop the show nicely. The entertaining acting by Genevieve was lost behind a mask which was part of the costume. The exaggerated body enhancements were enough to accentuate the excesses of the character and playing it without a mask would highlight the actor’s facial expressions, an important part of caricature. Rubber lips could be an alternative consideration here.
Once the characters were explored and ‘Clare’ appeared, her singing style emerged evermore smooth and satisfying. Clare’s songs and style were a delight to listen to and I would have liked to have heard one or two more of her own numbers towards the end of the show.
The concept for this show is original and creative. Playing a further two shows in Brisbane and Kin Kin, this performance is an entertaining night out. Spooners for Crooners has two more shows at Woolloongabba on 22 May and Kin Kin on 25 May.