It seems fitting to start this review with a confession – I knew very little about Amanda Palmer before this night. I’ve never listened to The Dresden Dolls, have never seen her perform, I’d never even heard her sing. But after tonight, I know more than I ever thought I would.
The show she’s currently touring around Australia, There Will Be No Intermission, is four hours of complete and utter honesty from Palmer interlaced with exceptional piano playing and singing. The performer is an expert at managing to make a theatre of more than a thousand strangers feel like an intimate gathering of friends in your lounge room. A brilliant storyteller, there were moments where the audience were so enthralled you could hear a pin drop.
Palmer’s personal anecdotes were dark – something you are forewarned about – but don’t worry, if it gets too dark you are always welcome to stand up and yell “Amanda, I’m too sad” to which the singer will start to play Coin Operated Boy to lighten things up.
Candid stories about abortion, assault, online abuse and death are juxtaposed with memories of long-lasting friendships and hilarious musical numbers. A highlight was a rendition of Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid. The only way I can think to describe it is the way Palmer described it to the crowd – listen to the song and imagine an artist, a mother, a foetus and a vagina singing it at the same time. Sounds crazy but I was laughing so hard tears were streaming down my face.
This was not the only moment Palmer had me in tears. We heard how, three months into her second pregnancy, she was told her baby didn’t have a heartbeat. A few days later she had to spend Christmas with her husband’s family. On Christmas night she experienced a miscarriage and held death in her hands. If you listened hard enough, you could hear the audience’s heart breaking for her.
The singer presented a circulatory narrative, often returning to ideas and stories throughout the evening, in a way that was completely natural. By the end of the performance, there was a real sense of having witnessed something incredible. There was a closeness and a respect so strong that when the singer said “I love you Sydney” – you believed it because you felt it.
Amanda Palmer is an exceptional human. There Will Be No Intermission is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Four hours of unfiltered honesty takes courage and the artist manages to express everything people are thinking – in C Major. But don’t worry, despite the title, there IS an intermission.
FIVE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
There Will Be No Intermission was on at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney on Thursday 20 February 2020.
Remaining Tour Dates:
Sat February 29th– Darwin Entertainment Centre, Darwin
March 12- 13 – Auckland Arts Festival: Hollywood Avendale , NZ
Photo credit: Allan Amato