Lifelong allergy sufferer, Uma Dobia, knows a thing or two about navigating the world while looking for danger in every crumb.
In her playful new cabaret, Intolerant, Uma uses her genre-hopping vocal, storytelling and comedic skills to confront her obsessions with chocolate and popcorn, the difficulties of explaining your allergies at dinner parties, and how to date without having an allergic reaction to semen (yes, really) — until Crohn’s disease comes along to crash the party.
Read on to spend time with Soprano Uma Dobia.
– what was the inspiration for the show and what is it about this show that you consider to be enduing
The inspiration for Intolerant was my own experiences dealing with Crohn’s disease and food allergies. I’ve always had allergies — although they’ve increased in number over my life — but I was only diagnosed with Crohn’s a year and a half ago. There are so many people dealing with food related issues in our society, but these struggles are often invisible or misunderstood by others. I hope the show can help to shed some light on what living with allergies and Crohn’s is like — we’re all dealing with something, and the more understanding we have, the better we can support each other.
– how would you describe the show to someone who knew very little about it
It’s a cabaret/musical comedy of one girl’s journey through life looking for danger in every crumb.
– what are some of the themes involved and why are these important
The main themes of Intolerant are around feeling different and like a burden, apologising for things you have no control over, and taking others’ advice as the truth, instead of believing what your body is telling you — but hopefully while making the audience laugh! I think we’ve all experienced these things, even if they’re not related to food.
– has the show been modified for Fringe and, if so, why was this something that had to happen and how was it decided what the new show would look like
The show hasn’t been modified for Fringe – in fact, it’s the first ever run of the show!
– what do you enjoy most about appearing at Fringe and why is Fringe theatre important overall
The great thing about Fringe festivals is that they support such a wide array of different art forms. Fringe allows artists and audiences to get experimental with their art. It’s full of all sorts of amazing productions and genres, and you get to see the full breadth of human creativity on display. How inspiring!
– what excites you the most about appearing live – what keeps the fire in the belly burring
Well, I’ve got a fire in my belly a lot of the time from my Crohn’s anyway, but when it comes to performance there is no greater joy to me than connecting with an audience and knowing that you’ve told a story that has touched them emotionally.
– what sort of artist do you consider yourself – how would you describe yourself as a creative
I’m an operatic soprano, BUT I refuse to be put in a box and love to jump between genres. I’d describe my style, whether in performing or writing, as warm and eclectic, with some humour dropped in for good measure.
– who inspires you and why
There are so many! I’m lucky to be surrounded by some truly fantastic performers. But in the cabaret space my main inspiration is Ali McGregor. Her ability to transcend genres is amazing. And in that same vein, my first main inspiration when I was a young singer was Audra McDonald. She got me into classical singing in the first place. What a voice!
– what is next for you
I hope to take Intolerant show to other festivals in 2024 — but straight after this season I’ll be heading to the US for a few weeks to do a couple of small concerts and visit family. Then I’ll be workshopping a new Australian opera, and taking part in Australian Contemporary Opera Company’s program in early 2024. It’s going to be a busy few months!
– and finally, what would you say to encourage audiences to attend
Intolerant is a heart-warming romp that’ll leave you with some allergy-friendly tips for the allergy sufferers in your life. It’s full of fun, and I try to keep things classy while using plenty of toilet humour — what more can you ask for really?! Well, maybe some allergy friendly chocolate...
With a soundtrack that includes original songs, parodies of operatic arias, highlights from previous performances in Pirates of Penzance, as well as her favourite Wiggles songs, the music of Intolerant showcases Uma’s versatility across multiple musical and performance styles, and puts her comedic talents in the spotlight.
October 9 – 15
Image: Mark Gambino