Sydney Festival is in full swing, with two different Spiegeltents in operation, accessed via the awkwardly rebadged Meriton Festival Village that you’ll find located in Hyde Park North. On opening night, January 7, I popped in to catch the talented Meow Meow in Little Mermaid. The show is the latest in Melissa Madden Grey’s trilogy of Hans Christian Andersen inspired cabaret shows, following directly in the footsteps of Little Match Girl. If you’ve stayed abreast of fairy tales, Little Mermaid was a bit on the dark side: the female protagonist gave up her ability to walk for a lover who didn’t really warrant it. It’s kind of a metaphor for modern day dating on Tinder, no?
The songstress was in particularly fine voice, with her trademark Pro. Domme style audience manipulation less of a focus in this show. That said, you will see three ordinary blokes pulled up onto stage and dressed as mermaids complete with tails and multicoloured wigs. Half the audience is also co-opted into schlepping Ms. Meow around the venue as she crowd surfs over their heads.
Meow Meow works best with alcohol, so consider preloading in the Kirin or Moet & Chandon festival bars.
If you’re tempted towards snacking, the big name stalls are (once again) Porteño and Gelato Messina, both conveniently placed right by the aforementioned bars. The famed Elvis Abrahanowicz was manning his own grill at Porteño on the night I dined, flipping slabs of smoked wagyu brisket for your Reuben Sandwich ($15).
The famed brisket is sadly a bit dry and overdone, but I forgive it because the flavours are on point, and well, it’s festival fare.
The neighbouring Gelato Messina offers a range of sideshow themed concoctions to get your ice cream on.
The Bearded Lady ($10) eats well, with lightly cream cheese flavoured ice cream encased in red chocolate then wrapped in a whirl red fairy floss and dusted with red velvet cake powder. Clutching it made me feel I was about age seven all over again – magic.
Less successful was a phallic Messina Weiner ($10) styled after a corn dog with doughnut and panko crumbed maple syrup gelato deep fried then dipped in plum sauce.
Festival fare is unlikely to appeal to everyone, so if you'd prefer a proper meal somewhere within walking distance of the Meriton (Sydney) Festival Village my recommendations are Fix St James, La Rosa and Nel Restaurant.
Sydney Festival is running until January 26 with a programme of 157 events, including 89 free events: sydneyfestival.org.au/2016/