Review | Amanda Palmer – There Will Be No Intermission

Amanda Palmer – There Will Be No Intermission | Kabarett Haus | ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Having followed Palmer’s work for years, I know well enough to expect the unexpected. Her shows inevitably contain a few moments surprising enough to throw you off balance, a few tear-jerkers, a few belly-laughs.

Her newest show, however, is surprising even for her.

Those who arrived expecting a few hours of music, smattered with Palmer’s signature blend of humour and rawness, would have been taken a little off guard. Those who came along based on the rather bland description on the Perth Festival website, with no prior experience of Palmer’s work, were most likely downright shocked. The show ran long, at four hours, but every minute was well spent (contrary to the title, there was one intermission).

The show wove segments of stand-up comedy and a conversational fire-side tone with countless moments of deeply human and gut-wrenchingly painful realness, with songs interspersed throughout, ranging from the hilarious to the heartbreaking. At one point during the show she mentioned Hannah Gadsby’s 2017 show Nanette as an influence, and that influence shows. Is there such a thing as stand-up tragedy? If there is, she nailed it. The primary theme of the show was, of all things, abortion. Not just that though.

Over the course of the night Palmer touched on a plethora of topics that very few artists would be willing to touch. Abortion, miscarriage, pregnancy, parenting, climate change, queerness, family trauma, genocide, fear, depression, radical compassion, murder, prison, mindfulness, sexual assault, death, grief, bushfires. An hour or so into the show she told the audience that if anyone had come along with no idea of what to expect, they were more than welcome to leave, and she wouldn’t be offended. At the intermission, unsurprisingly, several people did so.

You might think that a show covering such heavy topics would be miserable to watch, but her expert use of humour, empathy and kindness allowed her to carry the audience through the dark without despair. About halfway through the show Palmer said that in her view, an artist’s job is “to go into the dark, and make light”. She does just that, unerringly.

In quiet moments, I could hear sniffles and quiet sobs from the seats surrounding me. I myself cried and laughed in turns throughout. At the end of the show I felt tired out, cleaned out, a little messy, a little more whole, and a whole lot lighter.

Palmer made a special effort with inclusivity and accessibility, beginning the show with an acknowledgement of country, and having live Auslan translation running throughout, which was excellent to see. I would recommend you go see the show, but unfortunately it was in Perth for one night only. She’s playing it once more, in Darwin, in about a week, so if any readers happen to be in the Northern Territory then, go watch it!

Music continues this week at the Chevron Lighthouse with disco star Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King, the legendary gospel artist Mavis Staples, Aldous Harding and The Blind Boys of Alabama. 

Star Rating Guide

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