Michael Griffiths. Picture: Blueprint Studios

CABARET
In Vogue: Songs by Madonna
Presented by Michael Griffiths
3.5 stars
De Parel Spiegeltent
Review: Sarah Dunstan

It's really hard not to like somebody who re-enacts Madonna and Sean Penn's 1985 cliff-top wedding, complete with paparazzo helicopters and Penn dramatically firing warning shots.

"I felt like the luckiest girl in the world," Michael Griffiths sighs, or as he prefers to be called on the night, "Madonna - the most famous bitch in the world."

In Vogue is Griffiths' lo-fi, keyboard commentary on the interesting life of Madonna Louise Ciccone. Griffiths sets the scene at the beginning of the show - "It's 1990. I am still bathing in the success of my last album, Like a Prayer."

Still, time is as fluid as Madonna's fluctuating but predominately sexually menacing moods. Griffiths shifts in song and accompanying narrative from Madonna's beginnings as a dancer for various sleazy establishments to the present day, where she is the whip-cracking mother of four children ("Lola, Rocco, and the small black ones.")

This is a relatively comprehensive, warts-and-all coverage of Madonna's personal life as much as her art, gossip mag style. Griffiths' piano bar arrangements of Madonna's songs are faultless but his commentary is what makes the show great.

As somebody who is jealous of a friend of a friend who is allegedly the daughter of Madonna's fertility specialist, I appreciated an in-depth explanation of what was going on in Madonna's head when she first saw her "hot Latino turkey baster" Carlos Leon jogging in Central Park. So did the rest of the audience.

Given that Madonna's style is "pimp" these days, it is also strangely suitable that her "voice" be that of a rather flamboyant male. Arguably, there are few in the world who exude camp more than Madonna. (Aside from Lady Gaga, whom Griffiths compares to a backyard dog during the show).

Like many women my age, I have spent life since 1998 wishing for Madonna's Botticelli Venus locks from the Ray of Light era. However, for the sake of a show of one hour's duration, you must excuse Griffiths' neglect of several "episodes" Madge has gone through over the years.

As he tears through most of The Immaculate Collection, treating it like the old news it is, who could complain about a lack of trendy Jewish mysticism and make out sessions with Britney?

Promising an Annie Lennox show later this year, Griffiths is one to watch for his diva. His show is undeniably "fringe"- a dually snide and loving tribute to a woman who is so wrong but manages to get it so right every time.

In Vogue: Songs by Madonna runs until February 9.

The West Australian

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