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REVIEW: Michael Griffiths’ ‘It’s A Sin’

Review by Markus Hamence – Performance date: Wednesday 13 March 2024, Adelaide Fringe, Garden Of Unearthly Delights, South Australia

He can do no wrong… Michael Griffiths is a master performer – his latest show, ‘It’s a Sin’, at the Adelaide Fringe in The Garden of Unearthly Delights , is a powerful and very personal cabaret experience that encapsulates the essence of growing up gay in the ’80s and ’90s. Directed by the esteemed Dean Bryant and performed at the enchanting Spiegel Zelt at The Garden of Unearthly Delights, Griffiths’ show is a heartfelt narrative that intertwines the bittersweet realities of his life with the iconic tunes of the Pet Shop Boys. Julian Ferraretto on violin and Dylan Paul on double bass join him, adding layers of emotion and depth to the performance​​.

Having seen all of Michael’s work thus far, this is by far his most personal. His Madonna, Lennox, Porter, Allen & Kylie shows are outstanding and incredible story-telling performances set against the said artists music. What Michael does with THIS show however is tell his own story set against the Pet Shop Boys catalogue (or some of at least) and it engages you on an entirely different level… Michael reveals himself and we connect with him as an artist while exploring knowing how he has become the artist and human he is today… It’s breath-taking and heart-touchingly good.

Griffiths embarks on a personal journey, sharing stories from his childhood with a desire to stand-out, and then a need to be hiding away as he is facing bullying, discovering music, having a girlfriend, and experiencing his first kiss. He delves into his 31-year relationship with his partner, Daryl, and the poignant realities of growing up queer during a less accepting time. The show’s soundtrack features Pet Shop Boys’ hits like ‘Love Comes Quickly’, ‘Suburbia’, and ‘Go West’, each song serving as a backdrop to pivotal moments in Griffiths’ life. The discussion about AIDS and the anxiety of coming out during this period is particularly moving, highlighting the show’s ability to tackle heavy subjects with grace and honesty​​, all the while keeping us uplifted and entertained.

Dylan Paul on Bass and Julian Ferraretto on violin

Critics thus far have lauded ‘It’s a Sin’ for its emotional resonance and the Helpmann Awarded Griffiths’ ability to connect with the audience on a deeply personal level. The encore, a duet of ‘Heart’ with his partner, Daryl, onstage, was a highlight that left many audience members in tears, myself included. Griffiths’ gifted knack for blending humor, nostalgia, and raw emotion creates a compelling cabaret experience that celebrates life’s ups and downs through the lens of an extraordinary performer​​.

Michael. Image: Markus Hamence

As you’d know the Pet Shop Boys have been around since the mid-eighties, me myself being a hug fan from the beginning, and have racked up quite the album collective and uncountable single releases over this time – it is very fair to say you’re only going to see a glimmer of their vast catalogue of song in an hour’s show. You will hear many from the ‘Very’ album and some big classic hits too AND Michael has done very well with his selection. However, if you are like me the, the party of songs need not stop at the end of the show. Upon arrival at home and starting the writing this review, PSB played proudly on my turn-table and continued into the night.

A personal highlight? When Michael emerges from behind the keyboard and performs are heart-breaking, re-arranged version of ‘You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You’re Drunk’ (From the Nightlife album – The one where they had weird orange hair and crazy black tape eyebrows haha). It was mesmerising.

For anyone interested in a masterful blend of storytelling, music, and emotional depth, ‘It’s a Sin’ is an unmissable Adelaide Fringe highlight. Through Michael Griffiths’ eyes, we are invited to reflect on the power of music, the importance of love, and the resilience required to live one’s truth, making it a poignant, must-see performance. Bravo Michael, you’re a GEM!

Without question. Without a second-thought… FIVE FLAMBOYANT STARS *****

Tickets to the show and dates, click here! 🙂

Daryl, Michael, Dylan & Julian. Image: Markus Hamence
Markus Hamence interviews Michael Griffiths
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