THE SOUND OF FALLING STARS - MELBOURNE
THE SOUND OF FALLING STARS, The Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne, 28 February-3 March 2018. Photography of Cameron Goodall by Claudio Raschella
As I begin to write this review it strikes me that the show’s run finishes tonight. So, it’s highly unlikely you’ll read this in time to catch it. But if you love the music and voices of some of those wonderful singers/musicians whose work still lives on despite unhappily dying too young, you should make a note to see it next time; it’s hard to believe it won’t pop up again before long.
Written and directed by the genius that is Robyn Archer, The Sound of Falling Stars is a show whose genesis lay in her 80s international smash hit A Star Is Torn. In that tour de force she recalled the women who died too young from Billie to Janis and a dozen others in between.
On the vast open stage of the Playhouse I wondered if the space would be too big for what is ostensibly a one man show but The Sound of Falling Stars makes you smile from the outset and any doubts are allayed when the lighting (Geoff Cobham) draws you into intimate spots or places of rock ’n’ roll grunge.
Guitars and the odd bottles of bourbon and vodka are dotted around the stage, and the “the band” – and this is the Archer touch of brilliance – She has assembled an accordion player (George Butrumlis) and a keyboard player (Enio Pozzebon), that’s it. But the instrumentation works and when Cameron Goodall gets on guitar and vocals the sound is full. You have the two musicians weaving their magic alongside Goodall; they complement each other with their infectious smiles (and harmonies) and are a great foil for Goodall to work with.
But the show belongs to Cameron Goodall. He opens with the swagger and in-your-face attitude of Sid Vicious, then segues into Elvis. I learnt things about Sam Cooke that I didn’t know, and how Tim Buckley didn’t want to end up like his father – boozed and drugged and dying too early. Sadly, he did die too young, his life tormented by self-doubt. Goodall’s lanky good looks and devastatingly strong vocals have the audience mesmerised.
Not having seen a program I was wondering (hoping) that Jim Morrison would be featured – he was – all contorted and fuck you, Goodall again spot on. In all, Goodall portrays 31 singers that made a huge impact in their short lives.
The audience goes through the highs and lows and wonderment of the careers of these singers, marvelling how fame and fortune can affect a young mind. Recurring is the depressive state of the loneliness of being on the road, the toll that endless touring can take: life lessons not learnt.
Neverthess, I found myself grinning, my toe tapping. Then Archer gives you the end that you think is too schmaltzy for words – and here is her deft hand – it is a ruse, a false ending. Rather than walking into the sunset we get more and the show is all tightly resolved with Sid Vicious giving it the end that couldn’t restrain the audience any longer. The performance, the music, the lost lives received a standing ovation.
This won’t be the last we see of this show.