Review: Bigger & Blacker (La Boite Theatre, Sydney Opera House & W Lance Reynolds)

Photography by Morgan Roberts

Steven Oliver’s whirlwind cabaret Bigger & Blacker is sexy, irreverent, and hysterical, as expected, but also deeply personal and moving as he sings about love, loss, and life.

Photography by Morgan Roberts

Steven Oliver cements himself further as a man of a million talents with this world premiere, a cabaret show filled with song, dance, comedy, music, and storytelling based on his own experiences. Many are familiar with Oliver’s work on Black Comedy, and Brisbane audiences may have seen his heartbreaking and hilarious work From Darkness, which premiered at La Boite in 2019. Bigger & Blacker showcases a different set of skills again. Beautifully accompanied on piano and backing vocals by former WAAPA classmate Michael Griffiths, Oliver sings and raps original songs, dances, plays guitar, performs spoken word poetry…in addition to his recognisable irreverent banter, while dipping in and out of more serious subjects.

Photography by Morgan Roberts

Directed by Isaac Drandic, Bigger & Blacker draws together a number of original songs from Oliver’s projects, including web series A Chance Affair and his work as an RUOK Day ambassador, as well as deeply personal reflections on fame, sexuality, mental health, and racism. His original score took in catchy pop, urban rap, and tender love songs as well as spoken word performance, and he demonstrated his powerful vocals across all genres. A master entertainer with a strong stage presence, Oliver slipped seamlessly from crude to crooner and back again, and the wholehearted openness that he brought to the entire show was moving.

Photography by Morgan Roberts

Dressed in a red velvet jacket, Oliver entered the stage to cheering and applause and exited to a standing ovation. For the hour in between, he took the audience on an emotional journey through story and song, with plenty of cheeky jokes but also moments of vulnerability, reflection, and sincere emotion in between energetic dance moves.

Photography by Morgan Roberts

Along with musical prowess, onstage banter, and beautiful harmonies, Michael Griffiths also provided musical direction, with sound design by Brady Watkins. Set and costume design by Kevin O’Brien was full of colour and texture, and lighting design by Chloe Ogilvie varied to suit the changing mood of each song.

Photography by Morgan Roberts

Bigger & Blacker is a wholehearted and fabulously entertaining night out full of laughter, song, and big metaphors about music, love, and life.

Bigger & Blacker is playing at the Roundhouse Theatre until 27 March. For ticketing and further information, visit the La Boite website.

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