See article in its original context here by Suzanne Tate for Theatre People.
I felt a sense of Déjà vu while I waited for Michael Griffith’s Cabaret Adolescent to start. It was almost a year ago that I came to see Griffiths in Sweet Dreams at the same venue, FortyFive Downstairs. The weather was just as hot, and I probably had to battle through the tennis traffic then too, although I don’t remember that. It must have been a fraction cooler this year, as Griffiths didn’t feel the need to apologise to the audience this year as he turned off the large (and noisy) fans that were keeping us all relatively cool. What had not changed was the caliber of the performance, or the enjoyment of the audience.
Rather than focusing on the lives of music idols, as in the previous show, Adolescent focuses on Griffiths’ reflections of his own life and his ongoing refusal to ‘grow up’, despite recently celebrating ‘the Big 40’.
Griffiths opens with an Annie Lennox song, ‘Keep Young and Beautiful’, and continues with a series of 80s hits, as he remembers his actual adolescence. The set is structured as a medley, interspersed with amusing anecdotes from his teen years. Griffiths quickly develops an easy rapport with the audience, and they are as keen to hear his wit as they are to listen to him sing, so the mix works well. Truncating the 80s songs down and stringing them together keeps the mix fresh, and allows us to take a longer work down memory lane than we would have had time for if the whole song was sung. The medley includes songs by Spandau ballet, A-ha, Duran Duran, Howard Jones, and Culture Club.
Griffiths goes on to discuss relationships (‘Obsession’ Annie Lennox) while his partner, sitting gamely in the front row, laughed at all the ‘revelations’. Anecdotes and musical interludes of his time touring with Priscilla and Jersey Boys followed, culminating in an impressive acapella chorus of his favourite Jersey Boys song. On a more serious note, we hear about some darker times in his life, stemming from his discovery of a family secret. ‘Resentment’, a song written for a documentary on the subject, beautifully illustrated the emotions at play. Finally ‘In Between days’ by The Cure accompanied reflections on getting older (and the cruelty of booking a 21st party in the same venue as a 40th!).
The setting for Griffiths show is very simple. A grand piano, which he plays beautifully, and extremely simple lighting – an occasional colour change the only effect. Griffiths needed no costume or props to portray Pop Divas like Madonna and Annie Lennox in the past, so none was certainly needed for this fun tour through his self-professed lack of maturity and a life in the entertainment industry.
Griffiths ended the evening with an ‘encore’ and some audience interaction, closing the show on a high note and leaving the audience energised.
Griffiths thanked his support network for managing the ‘real world’ and allowing him to postpone growing up and dealing with such mundanities as internet banking. We also thank them, if living in an extended adolescent allows Griffiths to foster his creative side and bring us such entertaining performances.