When: Sept. 5-Oct. 19 2014
When it comes to cabaret-style performances, you can’t get more original than Meow Meow, the international singer-slash-comedian-slash-crowd-surfer who has worked with the likes of David Bowie, Pina Bausch, and Mikhail Baryshnikov. The Australian-born firebrand’s latest, An Audience with Meow Meow at Berkeley Rep (2015 Addison St., Berkeley), is her first foray into an extended-run musical play (capping at about ninety minutes). Part slapstick, part burlesque, part torch-y song numbers, and a decent amount of audience groping, Audience stars, naturally, Meow Meow, aka Melissa Madden Gray, who brings a signature blend of loopy and bawdy antics to the threadbare plot. Meow Meow is a diva who sings, dances, changes costumes onstage, pulls Exit signs off the wall, and naps on pianos — all while smoking a cigarette. Audience is nothing if not a transgressive performance, one in which the fourth wall is obliterated as if by glitter bomb and the entire audience is expected to sympathize with Ms. Meow’s plights, of which there are many. While the first half is a panoply of LOLs, Meow Meow’s entire plot of “Oh no, my show is getting canceled!” gets a tad old after about an hour. Once the show does finally get “canceled,” the pace slows way down, and continuing to care about Meow Meow’s antics becomes a struggle. But despite a few lulls, Meow Meow is a delightful and strange beast, and one of the most innovative chanteuses performing today. Watching her crowd-surf almost up to the back rows of the orchestra section was pretty close to purrfect, as far as entertaining theater goes.