Fringe World 2015: The Merchant of Whimsy review

After writing and performing in last’s years duo show Oh Crumbs!, Clara Cupcakes (Elly Squire) returned to Fringe World in 2015 with her very first solo show. Backed by her impressive performance history begun in Perth in 2007, The Merchant of Whimsypromised all the very best of the things we’ve come to know and love about Clara Cupcakes – an infectiously fun, playful, hilarious, clever, witty and sweet singing and dancing extravaganza – and I’m happy to say it more than delivered.

From the moment Clara Cupcakes took a bite out of a wheel of brie cheese, I knew this was a show after my own heart. Set in the format of a “whimsy-aholics” meetings, this sweet show takes you on a journey through the stages that lead to acceptance of the whimsical life – from annoyance, denial and anger, right through to monkeys (yes, monkeys!) and finally the understanding that it doesn’t really matter what the dictionary says whimsical means, because we should all just be doing the things that make us happy.

Clara Cupcakes uses every skill at her disposal – singing, dancing, circus, hula hooping, stop motion animation, ukulele, and an uncanny ability to get the audience involved – to ensure every single person watching the show is left beaming from ear to ear. Peppered with clever pop culture references, witty one-liners, Nerf guns, glitter, endearingly kitsch costumes and sparklers, The Merchant of Whimsy was a delight from start to finish.

One of the things that impressed me most is Clara Cupcakes’ incredible professionalism, and her ability to think on the fly and interact with the audience on a genuine level. She managed to keep the audience laughing throughout an unfortunate technical glitch and even ended the night with a hug for every single person in the tent. But most importantly, I think, is the way she goes about getting the audience involved.

Throughout the night audience members were pulled up on stage to be part of her acts, but unlike many shows I’ve seen, we didn’t end up laughing at their expense while silently thanking the powers that be that we weren’t the ones chosen to be humiliated in front of a crowd. My brother-in-law took part in her “Milkshake” routine (and she referred to him as “the prettiest poo princess”) and while Clara Cupcakes gently poked fun at the people sharing her stage, she didn’t rely on humiliating them for the sake of a laugh.

It’s a real reflection on Elly’s talent that she doesn’t rely on that cheap trick to get her audience involved.

If you’ve never seen a Clara Cupcakes before performance, all I can say is you absolutely must! She’ll take you on a sweet, yet cheeky, kitschy ride, bring tears of laughter to your eyes and leave your cheeks sore from smiling.

You can catch The Merchant of Whimsy at 7pm tonight and tomorrow in the Pleasure Garden, or check out Clara Cupcakes in a number of other shows (full details on her Instagram!).

Feature image by Matchless Snapshots 

 *I was gifted tickets to this show in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own. 

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