Fiona O’Loughlin was a regular face on television in the 90s. Her self-deprecating humour about her home and family life made her a popular guest on several chat shows. That came to an end after she collapsed on stage and admitted that she was battling alcoholism.
Now that she is clean and recovered, O’Loughlin is back, this time as part of the Adelaide Cabaret Fringe Festival at the Arthur Art Bar. The converted furniture store in central Adelaide is a quirky venue, with plenty of props and artworks adorning every nook and cranny. On this chilly Friday night, a fire warms patrons on the footpath out the front of the venue, whilst a guitarist entertains.
The audience is called into the performance space, set up in cabaret style with round tables and chairs. It’s a small and intimate crowd, but the mood is expectant. The “house band,” George Glass, are the warmup act and backing band. Dressed in matching muscle suits and green turtlenecks, they set the tone for what is to come. The set is pure 70s: brown vinyl couches, a mushroom floor lamp and a dried flower arrangement add to the vibe.
O’Loughlin bursts on stage, fashionably late. She is dressed in a patterned green coat, round glasses and a 20s style hat with sparkly blue boots. Fiona’s wit and charm come naturally as she talks about her family life, her battles with the booze and other familiar topics. It’s an easy banter. Her stories tend to wander, but she always manages to get to the punchline in the end.
The show is like a late-night chat show, with guests punctuating proceedings. Her first guest is Josh Morphett (part of duo Blue Sky Holiday) who was entertaining us out front on the way in. We learn that he went from an unfulfilling engineering degree to full-time musician to spend more time with his young son. After one of his own songs, he did a memorable cover of “Valerie”.
After a short break, performer Martin Sinatra (not his real name) was invited onto the brown leather couches to chat and spin a few yarns. There were more stories, a few songs and before you knew the show was over.
The cabaret style show of guest performers worked well, while still allowing O’Loughlin’s natural charm, personality and wit to shine through. All in all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable night out.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
The Adelaide Cabaret Fringe Season has finished but you can learn more about it here.