As a casual fan of The Doors since my first act of teenage rebellion which involved a group of us sneaking into Oliver Stone’s 1991 film about the band, I have to admit to being more than just a little bit skeptical about Luigi Lucente’s original cabaret Jim Morrison: Kaleidoscope. I had no idea what to expect based on the press release alone; I assumed that it would involve some sort of Morrison impersonation by Mr. Lucente, which would probably have been cringeworthy at best. I imagined him as a leather-panted baritone swaying and swaggering across the stage, delivering lines with a faux-drunken slur, narrating an overly sentimental life-and-times of the infamous rock idol and member of the 27 Club.
Boy, was my imagination wrong. Lucente is not a baritone, he did not wear leather pants, and he did not use a silly fake drunken slur. And most significantly, this was not a biographical look at the man Jim Morrison. Instead, it was actually what the title indicates, a Jim Morrison kaleidoscope. This is a prismatic, abstract look at the mind, music and words of Morrison. Lucente has pieced together these elements in his one-man, one-piano show directed by Nicholas Christo. The result is entirely unexpected, inventive and surprising.
The Doors fan in me was taken on an odyssey to identify what songs Lucente would cue up next in his tracklist. The original melodies, tempos and rhythms were frequently reinterpreted so that identifying them became a game somewhat akin to ‘Pin the Tail on the Donkey.’ Lucente intertwines the choruses of many of these familiar classic rock hits and grafts songs together using some of Morrison’s poetry, prose and press statements in short spoken-word moments. The Doors fan in me was left floating on a raft of impressions of the band and the man, unable to find solid footing or those familiar organ hooks. This is The Doors music stripped down and turned inside out.
Lucente also took the casual cabaret fan in me off guard. The typical bad jokes and audience participation were completely missing from his shtick – in fact there was no real shtick. He played neither a character nor himself, strictly speaking. There was a distance between him and the audience – he never revealed himself and he never told us who we were either. Sometimes it was as if he was addressing a totally different audience in another space in time. We mightn’t have been there at all, but this didn’t render the show or the performer impersonal. The intimacy and immediacy of one man singing his heart out at a piano goes a long way to give this unusual cabaret a personal feeling.
I have to note the different effects Lucente’s piece had on his audience; there were ladies of a certain age that were dancing in their chairs and air-guitaring their way to the ladies’, and almost everyone was captivated. There was, however, one young lady wearing a Doors t-shirt that just couldn’t manage to get her head around it. I think that’s also a perfectly acceptable reaction, too. If you’re expecting a standard tribute act or a standard cabaret, this may go over your head. But if you are willing to keep your doors of perception open for an hour, Lucente just might light your fire.
Two shows left: Friday 29.8 @ 7:30pm and Saturday 30.8 @ 6:00pm
Tickets: Standard *$42, Concession *$38
Bookings: Book now in person at a Venue Box office or Ticketek agencies | 1300 795 012 or
ticketek.com.au (*Service/delivery fees may apply. A Credit/debit card processing fee will apply)