queer: the wicked webs we weave

Review by Brian Godfrey
Adelaide Theatre Guide

Finally, a cabaret presentation gritty enough, different enough and slick enough to be worthy of being a Fringe event.

As directed by Velalien and performed by Charles Sanders, “Queer - The Wicked Webs We Weave” is a rilliant piece of absolutely flawless cabaret theatre. It is a collection of four “scenes” all dealing with passion and guilt with a female being the centre of attention in all cases. The devices to set these stories up are; a film script, a novel, mobile phone texts and the diary of a thirteen year old girl.

Sanders - obviously extremely comfortable with his feminine side - is stunning portraying all the women and absolutely captivates from his unannounced entrance, proudly proclaiming himself to Garbage’s “Queerest Of The Queer” and weaving his magic on such numbers as The Divynals “I Touch Myself”, Radio Head’s “Creep” and The Dresden Dolls’ “Missed Me”, through to his ending with Nick Cave’s “Into My Arms”.

This is not a drag show - Sanders is who he is with no apologies and uses his male voice to narrate, while his vocals demonstrate an incredible androgynous singing range. He is definitely Adelaide’s answer to interstate cabaret star Paul Capsis. Sanders is a true performer who acts as well as he sings and moves - his focus and internalisation are certainly to be admired - and at last: someone who knows how to use a mic correctly!

Backed by a great trio of musicians – Tim Overton, Hannah Bennett and Logan Watt – and using the cramped conditions of the Art Space to their advantage, Sanders and Velalian have woven a web of wondrous proportions.

But, be warned: like so many great productions in the Fringe, this season is far too short, with only two more performances to go.

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

adelaide fringe review 2012: queer: the wicked webs we weave

Reviewed by Lena Nobuhara, Monday, March 5, 2012
Cabaret Confessional

The second solo cabaret offering from Chaeles Sanders (directed by Velalien) asks to ponder one of life’s most perennially baffling questions – what drives people to an endless loop of self-destruction when they know all too well that it’ll end in tears?

This carefully crafted show examines the above-mentioned intricate theme in four separate scenarios. It’s punctuated by edgy arrangements of songs by artists, such as Garbage, Prince, Nick Cave, Divynals and The Dresden Dolls, as well as spoken words.

As Sanders traverses between charismatic and vulnerable, he unflinchingly challenges the audience as he presents the tales of those that get impossibly tangled up in their own “wicked webs” in his own distinct glam-rock style. He gives an all-consuming, emotionally nuanced performance.

The three-piece band featuring Logan Watt, Hannah Bennett and Tim Overton plays seamlessly throughout the show.

The stories he tells are intense. They demand attention and elicit reflection from the audience on their own vicious cycle, past or present. Queer: The Wicked Web We Weave is a well-executed, confronting piece of cabaret that leaves a lingering afterthought.

queer: the wicked webs we weave

By Jade Kops, on February 29, 2012
Glam Adelaide

In a simple outfit of backless waistcoat, signature skinny jeans, and thigh high boots, heavy eye makeup and phrases adorning his otherwise bare arms, Charles Sanders takes to the stage, complete with catwalk, in the Art Base basement space at Higher Ground.

Backed by talented musicians Logan Watt, Tim Overton, and Hannah Bennett, who also provides additional vocals, Saunders gives the audience their first taste of his beautiful voice. The lyrics of the song, Queer, by The Garbage, set the theme for the show. The ‘Queer’ referred to in the show’s title isn’t a statement on sexuality, but people in general.

Simple props are used to tell four stories of somewhat twisted relationships, both heterosexual and homosexual. The depth of emotion shown through the monologues and the music is further proof of why Sanders was awarded the Adelaide Critics Circle’s Emerging Artist Award in 2011.

Sanders uses carefully selected works, some with revised lyrics, from Amy Winehouse, Divinyls, Storm Large and Nick Cave, amongst others, to colour the stories and show his range from deep raw rock, to haunting ballads, then maniacal rage. A beautiful un-amplified number shows his vocal ability, still strong after some manic numbers, and allows the mood to shift to a quieter place.

Whilst the majority of the show comprises four scenes, it is not clear if any are Sanders’s personal story, but the ending brings all of the stories together, asking a question which Sanders brings back to his personal understanding with a final number that clarifies the meaning of the show.

The Art Base space is awkward, but Sanders works with it well, given the challenge imposed by the pillars in the centre of the room, one right at the end of his catwalk. He plays to the audience seated on both sides and makes full use of his small stage, including using equipment as props.

This is a show for anyone who has questioned human behaviour and motivation regardless of gender or sexual persuasion.



At the 2011 Adelaide Fringe, Charles Sanders kicked off Early Worx in Theatre and Art with A Modest Exhibit, a cabaret performance memoir. This year he returns to dazzle and delight with his vocal brilliance, technique, and varied styles in Queer – The Wicked Webs We Weave.

Sanders takes us on a journey – in the wicked way that Early Worx does so well – through love, desire and sexuality, with monologue and song. In the intimate Art Base theatre at Higher Ground, Sanders is able to truly connect with his audience, and runs the gamut of high emotion, from the opening song – ‘Queer’ by Garbage, with Sanders appearing to channel the legendary Lizard King, James Douglas Morrison – to the closing number: Nick Cave’s ‘Into My Arms’.

The monologues include the recitation of a film script about a pair of star-crossed junkie assassins, readings from a classic romance novel, and the tale of a gay 13 year old boy and his harrowing, devastating love affair with an older male – with disastrous consequences for all.

Sanders’ performance epitomizes burlesque cabaret, supported by an equally talented backing band. We see glimpses of the great stage seducers – Jim Morrison as previously mentioned, as well as Janis Joplin, Chrissie Amphlett and Prince – and a moving portrayal of a scared and scarred young boy, which is painfully brilliant to watch.

The music comes from the heart of hurt and includes Amy Winehouse, REM, Nick Cave, Prince, Kate Bush, The Supremes and Radiohead. The songs are emotional, sensual, sexual or violent, and the pleasure and pain are etched in Sanders voice and physicality.

My only criticism – and it is minor, indeed – is with the closing exposition, where Sanders explains what it’s all been about – it didn’t detract from the show, but felt like an unnecessary explanation.

This show speaks for itself through its words and songs. Let Early Worx, and the voice of Charles Sanders speak to you, too.

Rating: 4 and a half out of 5 stars