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ENIGMA TROIS: 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT UKE @ Cheeky Sparrow gets 7/10


Enigma Trois: 10 Things I Hate About Uke @ Cheeky Sparrow
Tuesday, January 28, 2020

7/10

Upon entering Mezzanine Bar, the intimate upstairs performance space at Cheeky Sparrow, one’s attention immediately became fixated on the shrine-like display of ukuleles. The simple layout of the stage allowed for the focus and spotlight to be on nothing but the arsenal of ukes, hinting at things to come.

The three performers, Keren Schlink, Julia Ellen, and Caitlin Pearce, entered the stage wearing colourful velour onesies coupled with sensual adult undergarments. This contrasting mix of bedroom and traditional slumber party wear helped to broadcast a light but naughty aesthetic to the evening’s performance. In contrast to this, the regimented and respectfully displayed arsenal of ukuleles lined up across the front of the stage helped to provide focus to the overarching narrative of the performance: yes, a tribute to the mighty uke. Impressively, Enigma Trois had a plethora of ukes on display spanning from your friendly ten-dollar Op Shop uke all the way to the real-deal expensive and sonically articulate artisan ones. There was even a banjo uke!

One major strength of this show was the eclectic synergy shared amongst the three performers. Amongst the trio was Keren Schlenk, the bandleader and self-confessed Dungeons and Dragons enthusiast. Throughout the performance, Schlenk masterfully balanced casual banter with more confronting political and social issues. Not afraid to tell it like it is, Schlenk beautifully engaged the crowd during her performance of It Could be Worse and was an excellent conduit between the audience and performers. Schlenk brought a strong element of interactivity to the performance by asking a random audience member to match famous political quotes to their Prime Ministerial counterparts.

Julia Ellen brought a quiet but confident intellect to the performance and her budding vocal abilities were a pure pleasure to experience. By far the quietest member of the trio, Ellen had arguably fewer opportunities throughout the show to showcase the extent of her talents and personality. This was a shame as the audience seemed to indicate that they thoroughly enjoyed the moments that Ellen had to shine.

Rounding off the trio was Caitlin Pearce. Pearce’s enthusiastically macabre energy worked as a perfect counterbalance to Schlenk’s assertive enthusiasm. A clear crowd favourite, Pearce’s touching song about her once-living cat was the standout performance of the night. Any song that involves taxidermy cats is bound to be entertaining, but Pearce’s ever cool, and casually unsettling delivery took the song to the next level. The song was authentically performed and provided a perfect balance between the humorous and the bizarre.

The vast majority of the songs performed on the night involved all three performers playing the same parts on their respective ukes. Whilst this did provide a full-bodied sound, at some points during the songs, the fluctuating timing of the three players did compromise the clarity and crispness of the overall performance. Perhaps a ‘less is more’ approach could be taken in some of the songs to provide that extra clarity and dynamic that was lacking.

Overall, Ten Things I Hate About Uke was a highly enjoyable night of comedic songs and witty banter that achieved the one most important objective of the performance: to showcase the mighty ukulele in all its glory. Be sure to keep your eyes out for the show’s reemergence.

CALLUM PRESBURY

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