Review: No Hat No Play! The Cabaret22 May 2021
Picture this, you’re in Year 6. You’re at the top of the primary school food chain. You’re trying your best to rock that polyester-cotton primary colour and brown uniform for your final year until you hit… duh duh duhhhh… teenagerhood. No Hat No Play! The Cabaret was all nostalgia, bringing together all the types of Year 6s that you ever did see (and maybe were). It was an absolute joy to witness, and warmed my lil’ gay heart.
Both Mel O’Brien and Samantha Andrew, the stars of the show, are not new to the Melbourne performing arts scene. Also, if you’ve been on TikTok (which you likely have, c’mon you’re not that mature), you would have come across Andrew’s TikToks on Married At First Sight and girls buying a 21st gift.
Literally any “Aussie” school kid is familiar with the damning statement of “no hat no play”, from which the cabaret’s title is derived. No hat meant that you couldn’t join your friends during recess or lunch. You couldn’t play 4 square or swing on monkey bars.
There was an astounding number of references to being in Year 6 at an “Aussie” primary school in the show. Of the many characters portrayed, Susie and Kayla in particular are on the tumultuous ride that is friendship in your last year of primary school. Mel O’Brien’s ballad here touched my heart. Who knew tears from a stolen juice box could make for a heart-warming and funny song?
Two girls sing (in beautiful chant harmony): “apple on a stick, makes me sick, makes my heart beat…not because you’re dirty, not because you’re clean, just because you kissed a girl behind a magazine.” Queerness was peppered throughout.
When the show unfortunately finished, I was left relieved that I was no longer in primary school, but also maybe wishing I’d done a few more lesbian weddings in my time.
This show was a delightful ode to being 12 from the early 2000s to early 2010s, and we can only hope to see more of the creators’ work in the future!