Review: Frankly’s Wordrobe

Fringe-award-winning cabaret artist Frankly thinks in pictures; she possesses a pronounced autobiographical memory, which is an ideal trait for a cabaret artist. 

Frankly | photo by Daniel Sutherland

Frankly can instantly recall the minutiae of every clothing purchase she has ever made; every dress, every corset, every velvety impulse purchase. In Frankly’s Wordrobe, she somehow squeezes the contents of her wardrobe onto the short and narrow Astor stage, but only has time to recount the anecdotes behind a week- or- so’s worth of outfits. 

Frankly’s Wordrobe as a show, is like Frankly’s clothes cupboard; there are a lot of themes to squeeze in: psychic prophecies, chronic illness, workplace conflict, and childhood trauma. 

As a performer, Frankly, like fellow Adelaide Fringe favourite Anya Anastasia, is a little bit Amanda Palmer, a little bit indie pop star, in the vein of Regina Spektor or Bjork. 

Her compositions are often lyrically literary and musically intricate, which is an impressive feat, although it does mean that it is sometimes difficult to entirely absorb the meaning behind the sensory onslaught. 

Often, Amanda Palmer, when delivering a sprawling narrative in tune form, will do so while utilising a simple and repetitive melody, which keeps the attention on the words, and on the story. The more complicated the narrative, the more basic the melody or vice versa.

On multiple occasions in Frankly’s Wordrobe, Frankly gets this balance right, often with hilarious consequences. Her songs about a school-age hair waxing incident and taking in a stray cat are side-splittingly naughty, while her ukulele swan song to close the show is spectacular. 

There are times, though, when the thread of the narrative is difficult to discern, simply because it is embedded not only within the patter between songs, but also within the lyrics of songs that are loaded with key changes and tempo shifts.

This is not necessarily a criticism, though, because upon repeated listening, the depth of these denser compositions could be better appreciated.

Frankly possesses a fearless stage persona, and a mastery of the keyboard and her vocal cords. Like Matt Gilbertson’s Hans, she can play off the audience and integrate them into her show with ease.

Frankly’s Wordrobe, after just three performances, contains the fabric required for stylish outfit; it just requires a little more time to seamlessly stitch it all together. This will undoubtedly occur as the season progresses.

At just 24, Frankly’s star will continue to rise.

Rating: ★★★1/2
Reviewed performance: Saturday 22 February

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