by Kylie Weston-Scheuber
In July 2013, the Paris Cat Jazz Club was packed to capacity for three performances of The Secret Life of a Lawyer (a Cabaret), the latest production from BottledSnail Productions.
Featuring well-known pop and music theatre songs and a cast of lawyers, Secret Life tracks the career progression of a lawyer, cabaret-style, starting with law school (“What do you do with a BA in English?”). The perils of job interviews (“I hope I get it”) and billable hours (“Seasons of Love”) are canvassed, along with caffeine addiction (“Taylor the Latte Boy”/“I Dreamed a Dream”) and social networking (“Let’s Have Lunch”).
The cast of Secret Life comprises members of Melbourne’s legal profession – Ed Harcourt (Maddocks – once removed), Bruce Hardy (Supreme Court), Jessica Heyes (Minter Ellison), Justine Ingaliso (Maddocks), Allie Sutherland (Law Student), Kathryn Sutherland (Maddocks), Kylie Weston-Scheuber (Victorian Bar) and Sarah Zeleznikow (Supreme Court). The show is directed by Kathryn Sutherland and piano accompaniment is provided by Georgina Lewis.
The show was developed by the cast in a collaborative process involving a number of brainstorming and writing sessions conducted over a glass of wine (or two). Maddocks generously allowed the use of its offices for rehearsal, with late-night furniture and keyboard shuffling providing cause for some bemused looks.
Audience members, lawyers and non-lawyers alike, were able to empathise with the long hours, time away from family and stresses that are part of the lawyer’s lot. Take this example from the first half of the show, sung to the tune of “I Dreamed a Dream”:
But the statement’s due tonight,
And the witness had a freak-out
And my partner’s at the snow.
I guess I’ll push on to the dawn.
What lawyer (or family member of a lawyer) cannot relate to that?
BottledSnail Productions, the organisation behind Secret Life, was formed in 2013. It creates and supports theatrical productions by lawyers, aimed at giving lawyers a creative outlet and helping to achieve a better work/life balance. Recent BottledSnail productions include two smash-hit seasons of The Law Revue at the Melbourne Comedy Festival 2013 and 2014, sell-out seasons of 12 Angry Men with a cast drawn from the Victorian Bar, and a recent benefit concert to raise money for imprisoned Australian journalist Peter Greste. Rehearsals have recently commenced for Parade, a large-scale musical theatre work to be staged in February 2015.
Fortunately, if you missed Secret Life the first time round, it’s back by popular demand. It’s on Wednesday 17 and Thursday 18 September 2014 at The Toff in Town (Level 2, 252 Swanston Street, Melbourne) at 8pm (doors open at 7.30pm).
Tickets: $24 (pre-sale) / $27 (at the door), available from Toff in Town.
Proceeds from The Secret Life of a Lawyer will be donated to the Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation, which seeks to create greater awareness of depression and anxiety within the legal fraternity.