Comedy cabaret is a hectic tribute to motherhood

WOMAN: It’s a Mother of a Cabaret 
Melbourne Cabaret Fringe Festival
Performer: Jodie Stubbs
Venue: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Pl, CBD
Until: July 14, at 8.30 each night
Rating: ★★★★


Career woman, cabaret singer, and mother Jodie Stubbs opened her cabaret comedy show  WOMAN: It’s a Mother of a Cabaret on Monday night with a powerful voice and stressed-out scowl.

The show, hosted at The Butterfly Club in one of Melbourne’s hidden laneways, creatively showed the constant and tiresome juggle of being a mother, career woman and feminist.

Stubbs’ performance consisted of singing, panicking, and fast costume changes. Beginning in the 1800s and spanning to modern day, Stubbs attempted to chronicle the fight for the feminist movement through cabaret.

In full makeup, a flapper dress, and adorned with glittering jewellery, Stubbed looked regal and ready to perform – until she was interrupted by her phone ringing.

Throughout the show, Stubbs’ singing and chain of thought were disrupted by the sound of messages pinging about her two children.

“Oh, do you think it’s the babysitter?” she asked the audience.

“I better just get this quickly… talk amongst yourselves.”

Deliberately disjointed and hectic, the show felt chaotic and at times rushed with the mother of two’s performance interrupted by the constant phone calls or Stubbs’ own panicking.

When Stubbs finally succumbed and answered the phone, she doled out instructions to the babysitter to the theme of Mission Impossible.

“Give Gracie the iPad and break open the emergency Cadbury. Desperate times call for desperate measures and at this point, I really don’t care.”

Hanging up with a sigh, she turned to the audience.

“Where were we? Oh, right, the systemic oppression of women,” she said.

When she began ranting, Stubbs was interrupted by her male keyboardist, James Butler.

Butler’s presence, while comedic, missed its mark. In a show discussing identity politics and feminism, the only time Butler spoke was to interrupt Stubbs to calm her down –without offering assistance or support.

Unfortunately, Butler’s performance wasn’t intentionally ironic, and was a missed opportunity for continued social commentary.

A prominent theme of the show, performed to a small crowd seated on pews in the kooky space, was identity, and the tenuous grasp mothers have on their own.

“I can be everything I want to be, just not all of it at the same time,” Stubbs said, referring to her career, ideals, and motherhood.

Trying to be the best mother she can, Stubbs sang about being made to feel “two feet tall” for being  “just a mother, just a wife”.

Her show criticised the judgment received by society for any choice a mother makes.

In turn, her performance was peppered with spiteful jealousy and scorn for mothers who seem to have their act together.

Stubbs ended the show with a song and one final tribute to a mother’s identity.

“Even though I was a mum, I wasn’t just a mum … I was me,” she sang.

With a voice that deserved more than the plywood stage she performed on, Stubbs’ show was turbulent and disordered – much like a mother’s life.

While the show had prominent feminist themes, the comedic elements made it accessible to male members of the audience.

For an unusual, unique, and flurried and frenzied show, it’s worth checking out Jodie Stubbs in WOMAN: It’s a Mother of a Cabaret at the Butterfly Club as part of the Melbourne Cabaret Fringe Festival.