Skip to main content

Melbourne Fringe: Andre Tonight!

Andre DiVenuto has a dream. A dream to host his own tonight show on Foxtel. He’s planning to record a pilot episode with his band, Bryan Jovi – they do Bryan Adams and Bon Jovi covers – but they have gone missing. And he’s waiting for his special guest Sam Neill to arrive from Tullamarine. Nothing is going to plan.

I was enticed to see Andre Tonight by the talent involved – writer and actor Chris Ryan and director Mark Leonard Winter. As the press release reminds us, they worked together on the brilliant Thyestes but I’m not sure that’s exactly how to pitch this show, a parody of tonight shows; Rove, as Andre explains, but darker.

The format of the night show is hackneyed. It’s barely changed in fifty years. There’s a band and there’s a special guest. And the “things go wrong behind-the-scenes” genre is one of my least favourite things. But Andre Tonight transcends this set-up because it’s not just a parody of tonight shows, it’s an insight into our obsession with fame and trying to become famous.

Ryan’s dressed in a terrible suit with an impressive bald spot; he looks tired and when Andre describes himself as “double nervous,” Ryan shows us exactly what that could mean.

Putting the show in the Comedy section of the Fringe Festival guide is a bit of bait-and-switch; they’re selling you a parody but giving you something much more fresh and exciting. Andre’s double nerves make you feel for him, while he tries desperately to entertain the audience that have shown up for his taping.

Early in the show, after it’s clear Bryan Jovi isn’t coming, Andre wonders if there might be anyone in the audience who can sing a little and play the keyboard. A woman stumbles from the audience, hair across her face, an almost-finished glass of red wine in her hand. She spits out her name “Meg” and falls onto the stool behind the keyboard.

In a shock to no one, “Meg the Egg” wows the audience, and while Andre continues to wait for Sam Neill, his real special guest is actually singer/songwriter, Megan Washington.

Ryan’s performance is filled with neat touches and his script brings a very Melbourne feel with references to Epping, Gumbaya Park and Clark Rubber. There’s a moment late in the show where Andre’s dream is slipping away and he’s sitting there, forlorn, eating dry Milo straight from the can. It’s hilarious and pathetic all at once.

Winter’s direction is loose without letting the show get out of hand; you don’t want this show to be too silly or too serious.

Andre Tonight is on late night, every night of the Fringe Festival, except Mondays. It’s a great way to end a Fringe binge – in the company of a sharp script, a smart actor and an exquisite singer.


Popular posts from this blog

My Favourite Theatre of 2018

It’s that time of year again, when I look back over everything I saw on stage and put together a list of my favourite shows. I saw over 100 shows this year, mostly in Melbourne and a small number on one visit to Sydney.

I will link to reviews if I wrote one.
TOP TEN (alphabetical order)
The Almighty Sometimes – Griffin Theatre, Sydney
Kendall Feaver’s extraordinary debut play is about Anna, dealing with mood disorders and medication and the complicated relationship she has with the treatments and her mother. Superb cast and beautifully directed by Lee Lewis
Blackie Blackie Brown – Malthouse Theatre
Nakkiah Lui’s work is always amazing but this production, directed by Declan Green, was another step up for her – the satire sharper and bleaker and more hilarious than ever before.
Blasted – Malthouse Theatre
Sarah Kane’s debut play from 1990s London is a tricky beast tackling difficult subjects but Anne-Louise Sarks nailed it with a superb production.
The Bleeding Tree – Arts Centre Melbourne

A Thing Isn’t Beautiful Because It Lasts: Avengers in the AGE OF ULTRON

The latest film in the Marvel Universe series feels like nothing so much as a season finale. And since Joss Whedon was once the master of creating season finales that were both emotionally satisfying and thematically resonant, it’s good to have him in charge for the second Avengers movie, Age of Ultron.
I’d like to compare it to the epic scope of Buffy’s “The Gift” but it feels more like Angel, if anything. Things change, the world moves on – and the best you can do is keep fighting. And embrace change.
Tony Stark has always been flawed, but by the third film in his own trilogy, he seemed to have found an emotional peace. But with that peace comes the idea that he can use his technology – his faith in machines being his tragic flaw – to create a replacement for the Avengers. He births an army of robots to calm the populace and fight alien foes.
Robert Downey Jnr’s Stark is such a towering figure in the Marvel Universe films – and to make him partly the villain of this new film is a s…

You are far away: Agent Cooper and his troubling return to Twin Peaks

“What year is this?” Dale Cooper asks in the final scene of Twin Peaks: The Return, the last of many unanswered questions left as the 18-part feature film concluded a week ago.
It’s far from the first time we’ve seen someone who looks like Dale Cooper lost for answers over recent months. But it might be the first time we have definitive proof that he’s in over his head.
Mr C, Dale Cooper’s doppelganger, who was first seen in the original series’ finale back in 1991, returned to the town of Twin Peaks with a goal in mind. Mr C was flexible, though. He had to be; he’d set so many things in motion over twenty-five years, if he’d remained fixated, he would never have come as far as he did.
Dougie, Dale Cooper’s tulpa – created by and from Mr C, wandered aimlessly through life, but slowly made every life he touched better. Plans change and Dougie changed with them. Slowly but surely, Dougie pieced together Cooper’s past life and became richer for it.
Agent Cooper, the third part of this T…