There was a story cabaret artist Andrew Threlfall heard last year that unsettled him so much he decided to make it the basis for a one-man show.

Threlfall’s latest cabaret venture, Soft Centres, opens Sunday week at Bar Me after its season earlier this year at Melbourne’s Midsumma.

Soft Centres was inspired by a story Threlfall was told by his music therapist sister Cath, who works with children with intellectual disabilities.

My sister told me about a group of teachers who had been working with adolescents with disabilities, and they asked the kids to make a collage to picture the word -˜success’.

When the teachers came back to the group, the kids had made a giant collage of pictures of chocolate. That was their definition of success -“ a sensual, addictive thing, rather than the conventional things like money, jewellery or cars.

I was so bugged by that response and spent months trying to work out what it means. So part of the reason for doing this show is to pose the question, what does success mean, and then work through the different answers.

With a line-up of songs from such diverse artists as Rufus Wainwright, John Bucchino and Abba, Threlfall explores the themes of success, but also the temptations that drive people, especially sexual desires. One of his tales tells of an encounter with a handsome stranger in a back alley.

That one is based on various memories to create a character called the Rock God. He is one of those people who is so charismatic that you would do anything for him, but then you find that charisma does not last.

Stories involving chocolate are also woven in, including Threlfall’s recollections of his first job out of drama school as the state’s number one Lindt chocolate boy.

You know those people in Myer who stalk you through the store, giving out Lindt chocolate balls? Well, I did that and became the top person in the state, he laughs. The company thought it was such a big deal, but I thought it was a little bit ridiculous.

He then adds dryly, That’s the part of the show where I use Abba’s The Winner Takes It All.

The show is quite revealing about me. It starts off being a bit silly, but as I go through the stories of the show, I come to my own understanding of how those kids come up with the pictures of chocolate as a sign of success.

Soft Fruits marks Threlfall’s return to the Sydney cabaret scene after his success as one of the stars and creators of the recent hit musical, BoyBand, which now looks set for a national tour and a return Sydney season during next year’s Mardi Gras.

BoyBand still has some life in it, he says proudly. It was a risk, but it worked. We would all like to keep working on it, see what we can do and how much further we can develop it.

Soft Centres plays 21 and 28 August at 8pm at Bar Me, 230 William Street, Potts Point. Bookings: 9368 0894.

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