Songs From The End of the World – Andrew Finegan and the swan song. (Sydney Fringe Festival Cabaret Review)

There’s been a lot of talk about the end of the world in recent times, or rather, since the dawn of time.  It seems human creatures love to be filled with fear, and will even counsel each other to “live each day as if it were your last” as if this will somehow erase the dredging baggage of memory and future fear in the present. We get scared of so many things, inside ourselves and outside, and the harder you work to take some control and reduce the chances of risk, the more afraid you become. It’s in our cyclical relationship with each other to “predict” demise and inflict that prediction on the other, whether it be killer bees that never arrive, bird flu so powerful it can get through the mask you wear on the train, dinosaur destroying comets, or left-wing politicians. It seems as much as we profess the contrary, we secretly love to be afraid.

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Andrew Finegan has taken this contrary notion and created a fun little cabaret show, to give us something to do in our last few hours; that turns out to be filled with wit and a relaxed disarming talent. I saw Andrew at the Factory theatre – a venue I love attending, but go to mostly at Fringe time – in a slim theatrette located at the very back of a series of Lynchian twists and turns into the dark depths of the main hall at The Factory. I was surrounded by huge dark heavy curtains, and several rooms, obviously not being used as part of the comedy festival, filled with the debris of shows long past, audiences long gone and laughter most distant. It was a short, surreal walk that acted as a transitional tube popping me out the other end a clean subject longing to be entertained. Andrew was sitting at the back of the room when I entered, casual, handsome, relaxed, and ready with his “Hi, please sit toward the front” that scared the bejesus out of me initially; but that tiny fear gave way to a cheer as I realised here is an experienced performer in control of his show.

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Despite the dark subject matter Andrew, someone who cleverly knows we are at our most comfortable when terrified it is all about to stop, gives us a series of detailed songs about various time in the past when the end of the world has happened, from the death of the dinosaurs through Noah’s nerdy flood, to the microbe disease organisms that are more likely to get us before we get them. The subject matter is dark, the keyboard and instrumentation is chordal and deep, but the lyrics are light, rapid and clever, so Andrew packs what turns out to be a concise commentary filled with laughs into the show. He has a beautiful voice that creeps up on you, and a relaxed presence that gives you permission to release into his hands – a bit like an aural massage.  Once he’s covered the multitudeneous ways humans have predicted the end of the world, he slips into music about regret, hope, love and zombies. Perhaps we dwell so much on the end of the world because we want to remind ourselves to enjoy the little things? Or are they really the big things?

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By the end of following Andrew we will discover that perhaps our desire for the fear of the end of the world has more to do with our fear that it may not happen, and we will be forced to face those bills, that failed love affair, that lost opportunity and Tony Abbott. In between these realisations he’s mirrored our fears back at us, making us laugh at ourselves and easing us into the possibility that we may have to do it all again tomorrow.

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This is a very clever, very funny, very pleasurable way to spend fifty minutes of your time – even if it isn’t really the end of the world.

Andrew Finegan is doing more shows at the fun Factory Theatre.  You can grab your tickets here.

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