Who Is Dani Cabs?
Dani Cabs @ Tuxedo Cat – Cusack Theatre
6:00pm, Mon 2 Mar 2015
The simple answer to the question posed by the title is: Dani Cabs is a first-generation Australian of Uruguayan descent, with a penchant for “orange”, a passion for making videos and slideshows, and with deep-rooted issues of acceptance within his family.
There. Glibly easy.
But Dani answers the question himself with around an hour of mixed performances: there’s some straight standup, there’s some well-intentioned audience interactions, there’s more solemn theatrical soliloquies, and there’s a plethora of pre-recorded “ads” which do nothing other than constantly reinforce Dani’s inexplicable fixation on orange – whether it be the fruit, or plastic ponchos (leading to the eyebrow-raising repetition of “poncho orange”).
Dani likes poking fun at himself, whether it be through his slideshows or his comedy – his brief exploration into the Latin American passion for football is well worth a chuckle, and he mines the pressures of masculinity for a few moments of self-deprecation – but when he starts talking about his love of making movies, and showing us some of the snippets of video that bring him joy… well, I started feeling a little lost.
Whilst he has plenty of energy onstage, and clearly wants to be honest and transparent (as befitting the title), a lot of Dani’s material feels a little half-baked and… well, indulgent. A lot of his short stories seemed utterly disconnected from any other thread in the show, and of interest only to the people who were present at the time. His audience interaction was awkward, and – far from making him appear to be the wacky guy he clearly wanted to project – he just came across as a little bit desperate… the attempts to add weight through more serious topics felt like an attempt to balance his character.
And then I’m called up onstage to act as a focal point for Dani: I’m supposed to be his brother, respond as his brother. And suddenly it doesn’t feel like undulating comical theatre any more… it feels like a therapy session. It feels like I am part of Dani’s therapy.
And that’s too much to ask of an audience member.
It was difficult to get enthused about Who Is Dani Cabs? after being onstage: I felt like I’d been part of a super-self-indulgent piece of theatre, and in no way did it feel like Dani had earned the right to be so bold. The changes in tone – from almost madcap zaniness to morbid look-at-my-problems – also killed any goodwill in the show… which is a shame, because Dani was always an awesome guy to talk to off-stage.
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) March 2, 2015