Entertainment Hive 2020

Kate Leigh: The Worst Woman in Sydney starring Libby O’Donovan

Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Space Theatre, June 15-17

Review by Honey B

Libby O’Donovan cuts up the stage as 1920s Sydney gang leader Kate Leigh. Adelaide’s own cabaret queen, O’Donovan has crafted a thrilling and superb musical theatre piece which details the rise and fall of this notorious drug and booze dealer. Leigh was a larger than life underworld figure with 107 criminal convictions and 13 stints in gaol. In classic cabaret style, O’Donovan entered from the rear of the venue weaving in-between audience members in a spectacular red beaded gown and long blonde wig. Her three-piece band was tight and the show was further enhanced by a large screen showing the main protagonists and interesting details in the sordid tale. O’Donovan has meticulously researched Leigh’s life and she effortlessly re-tells this tale in her own superb storytelling style – a mix of narrative, humour and catchy original songs. Highlights of the show include O’Donovan’s catchy tunes including Worst Woman in Sydney Town, Six O’Clock Knock and Some Men. The songs drive the drama incredibly well and help to flesh out the colourful characters. In a superb piece of theatre, the song I Won’t Waltz With Matilda features a special guest star and details the rivalry between Leigh and fellow crime boss Matilda “Tilly’’ Devine. O’Donovan has an easygoing, nuanced performance style and it’s naturally easy to love this local talent and her enticing work surrounding the intriguing life and times of Kate Leigh. It’s a fierce and fabulous show for a fierce and fabulous crime boss.
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