When theatre-maker Machael Dalley considered reviving his cult hit cabaret Vaudeville X, he questioned whether satire would still be relevant under a Rudd Government.
It got to the point where he almost wished that Howard was back in power, so that the right-wing policies of racism and xenophobia would enable the same hypocrisy and double standards within the Australian public, the source of inspiration for many of his songs.
“The question was asked, what is satire in the Rudd Government? I actually thought, this could be the end of cabaret when Rudd got elected,” Dalley told the Star. “I felt a bit sad that Howard’s not in government, because it makes great fodder for cabaret. It’s a terrible thing to say of course!”
When Dalley originally penned Vaudeville X five years ago it was during the illustrious Howard years. Now, remounting the show as part of the Melbourne Leather Pride festival, in what he has dubbed the Socialist Utopia edition, Dalley has adjusted the show to daily life without Australia’s favourite tyrant.
“I’ve gotta give the Rudd Government its dues — we can’t make jokes about the government not apologising to Aborigines. But we still have a government that is playing the whole border control issue,” he said. “Social division is still alive and well.”
Having questioned whether the show’s acute social commentary would apply within a new political context, Dalley concluded that despite a change in government, some attitudes would remain the same.
“I don’t know that society has changed immensely,” he said. “There are still some parts of society ripe for satire, regardless of whether it’s a Labor or Liberal government.”
Steeped in irony, Vaudeville X has played to packed houses during its seasons and has garnered considerable critical acclaim for its sharp-edged social satire. The premise of the show is Dalley’s own observations of Australian society, which he then frames within finely crafted songs that lampoon pop culture. New additions Shit Art on the Mornington Peninsula and You’re my Best Friend on Facebook continue this tradition.
“I’m interested in how people live and how they think…and how that affects their day-to-day actions,” he said. “I think there are contradictions in our lives. Basic ideals that we have and how that gets translated into how we live — sometimes there’s a gap between the two.”
So we’re not really egalitarian then?
“Oh, completely not. Oh, God, no.”
Dalley always assumes that each run of the show will be its last. Lucky for us this dynamic cabaret keeps popping up for another curtain call.
info: Vaudeville X runs at Upstairs at Dante’s until September 20.