Smashed – the Nightcap

Sydney Festival. Sydney Theatre Company Wharf 1 (The Thirsty Mile). 6-27 January, 2024

Reviewed : 7 January, 2024

Photo : Jacquie Manning

Victoria Falconer is no ordinary host! She has a vast history of performing and directing across Australia and internationally. But for this month she has left her role as co-artistic director of the Hayes Theatre to become the cheeky, sexy dynamo who fronts the cabaret Smashed – the Nightcap at Wharf 1. She sings, plays multiple instruments, leads the band and controls the show with a bold, defiant hand, deftly reeling the audience in to her contemporary take on the “salacious cabaret dens” of the 1920s and 30s.

Keeping her glass full and the audience eating out of her hand, Falconer heads a “femme-fronted” line up of cabaret and circus stars in the dim haze of the theatre on what was once one of the loading wharves of Sydney’s historical “Hungry Mile”, where crime boss Tilly Devine reigned, razor gangs roamed and ladies of the night lounged.

Photo : Jacquie Manning

But it’s 2024! The bar is open, the grog isn’t ‘sly’, the ladies are limbering up … and “Daddy” Victoria is in charge!

In costumes as colourful as the show itself, Falconer introduces the show with a spiel that puts masters of stand up to shame! Weaving between shadowy tables she sidles by her customers, teasing gently, roasting sassily, flirting audaciously. By the time she’s back on stage she’s set the scene for Sydney Festival’s “juiciest line-up around” with a live band including Nathan Barraclough, Abi McCunn, Jarrad Payne and Mary Rapp.

There’s Malia Walsh, the sinewy, hula-hooping, fire-wielding, marshmallow-loving founder of Circus trick Tease, whose impudent persona belies her slinky skill and contortioned control.

Photo : Jacquie Manning

There’s Tynga Williams, the tall, muscular Wiradjuri, Kamilaroi, Noongar and Torres Strait Islander drag performer, dancer, singer and model who kicks high, and Karlee Misi who strips away her feathers and finery as only burlesque babes can!

Twirling and twisting above the stage in ropes and a hoop, aerialist Bridget Rose brings the thrills of Cirque du Soleil to the cabaret crowd, and American singer-comedian Lady Rizo has left Joe’s Pub in New York for summer in Sydney for a Nightcap with Smashed.

Special guest, Australia’s own Courtney Act, captured the audience with a love story that touched their hearts, tickled their funny bones and showed them just why Act is truly and Aussie Idol!

Photo : Jacquie Manning

Smashed is circus-style cabaret. It’s suggestive, risqué, ribald and loads of fun. What makes it work so brilliantly is Victoria Falconer herself, who is in every moment, watching, following, conducting, coordinating.

If you love cabaret, enjoy a laugh and a thrill, go see this show. There are even more guests lined up for the rest of the month so the show you see might be even more exciting! And the negroni’s from the bar are good too!


First published in Stage Whispers magazine.