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Showing posts from March, 2018

Melbourne Comedy Festival – Romeo Is Not The Only Fruit by Jean Tong

Go and see this show.
Is that enough? People listen to me sometimes. People don’t always agree with me. But -
Go and see this show.
Please, just take a second to book a ticket and then come back.
What else do you need to know?
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single woman in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
And by the end of the narrative, one of them will end up dead.
Romeo Is Not The Only Fruit is essentially Dead Lesbians: The Musical, a response to the “bury your gays” trope that has infected stories forever but stands out as particularly egregious on film and television in the last decade or two.
Have you booked your tickets yet?
Darcy (Louisa Wall) has just moved to fair Verona, where writer Jean Tong lays her scene. Darcy stands out because she is very tall and very white. Not that the rest of the diverse cast of characters is racist, they are just worried about how she’s going to fit in. And can she use chopsticks.
Juliet (Margot Tanjutco…

Melbourne Comedy Festival – Rama Nicholas: Death Rides A Horse

Gather round, ladies and gentleman, Rama Nicholas has a story to tell you. It’s a one-woman Western musical filled with cowgirls, talking horses, whores with hearts of gold and a Spanish cowboy on his way to defeat Death… in Cancun.
Death Rides A Horse is a real gem, with Rama playing a dozen characters and narrating the show and singing the songs, sometimes in four-part harmonies, all by herself. But it’s not just an astonishing feat of performance, it’s supported by a strong script and an awesome musical score.
Caterina is from Coyote and she wants to be a famous cowgirl, but the women of her home town mostly make a living on their backs or on their knees. There’s a new and evil Sheriff in town and they are soon enemies, particularly after Caterina shoots him and gallops off into the desert.

This show is an hilarious pastiche of Western and musical clichés – and Rama is expert enough to make sure you’re never lost with who is speaking or what is happening next. With simple stage cra…

Melbourne Comedy Festival – Alice Tovey: Existential Crisis

Alice Tovey’s Existential Crisis is A Rock Opera where Alice hashes out all the issues she’s having during her quarter-life crisis. It’s hard out there for a millennial when you’re full of anxiety and not sure if your partner is right for the upcoming zombie apocalypse.
Alice is backed by a four-piece band, The Apostles, a hold over from her earlier show Personal Messiah, which was a lot more personal, given her Catholic upbringing, which I learned about in her first show, Malice.
While she rocks a slinky body suit with some impressive tassels hanging from her arms, the songs themselves don’t match up to her best work. In fact, the best song from the night “Australia’s Fair” is from another one of her shows.
Her concerns are those of a generation, which is a pity – because in the past her work has been more vital because we felt like we were getting to know her. I guess it’s fitting to end the review of a rock show by saying, in the words of Regurgitator, I like her old stuff better…

Melbourne Comedy Festival – #PickUp

In a world of dating and hook-up apps, much of the humour comedians find in Tinder stories stems from an old-fashioned view of the world. Remember when we dated like that, well now we date like this – isn’t that SO WEIRD?
The fun of #PickUp is the sex talk is frank and non-judgmental and the apps are just there to get to the really funny part – the sex itself and how to get your hook-up to go to sleep after.
Performers Alia and Colin are in a relationship, but they are polyamorous so they date other people. That’s a good set-up for a show in and of itself. As a non-traditional pairing, you get to be on their side as a team but also appreciate when they come into conflict. They don’t always find their needs met by one another.
#PickUp is a musical act first and foremost; the songs are the kind of rock and roll sexy that suits these two off-beat performers. There’s some fun audience interaction, mostly through people texting questions to them during the show.
When comedy about gender po…

Melbourne Comedy Festival – David Massingham: Sketch Me Like One of Your French Girls

Sketch comedy is hard, people. Filling your show with a dozen or more joke-filled sketches seems like it might be easier than crafting a fifty-minute stand-up routine. But it’s a tricky business.
David Massingham’s show is a mixed bag, utilising the full complement of a sketch comedian’s tricks – bad puns, terrible accents and audience participation. And that’s just in the first few minutes. But, as the saying goes, it gets better.
There are some gems to be found in-between the messy bits, though. Some fun satire with a small-town Mayor trying to play up the “Murder Capital” moniker his town has been branded with. A clever commentary on cultural criticism, centred around the “performance art” of a thief stealing oil paintings – capturing a real tension between law and order. And a Last Will & Testament video to a dying man’s three sons which is audacious in its complexity.
Sketch Me Like One of Your French Girls could afford to lose some of the groaners and try to find some more c…

Melbourne Comedy Festival – Hayley Brennan: The Procrastinator

It’s not unusual for a comedian to come out on stage to a song that pumps them up and gets the crowd excited. Hayley Brennan is already on stage when the audience enters, bouncing around, shaking off nervous tension and welcoming the crowd to “I’ll Make A Man Out of You” from Mulan
Hayley grew up on Disney films from their 90s renaissance, so you’ll have to forgive her if she tells you a few stories about that obsession before she starts the show.
Hayley is a unicorn, you see. Not that she’s magical or rare, though; she gets distracted by Netflix and YouTube like the rest of us mere mortals. She’s a unicorn because she’d miss getting on the ark due to the aforementioned shiny distractions.
I went to see The Procrastinator at the last minute, which feels like the perfect way to see this show – with a second’s notice and totally unprepared. Hayley bounces from topic to topic in a way that feels unplanned but is cunningly devised.
She’ll draw you in with a story about Princess Jasmin…

Bare – The Musical by John Hartmere & Damon Intrabartolo

At St Cecilia’s boarding school, the students are going through typical high school angst, while rehearsing for a production of “Romeo & Juliet”. If you think that is a portent for mayhem and doom, you would be right. But there’s still a lot of fun to be had along the way.
Bare – The Musical has a cult following borne of its original Off-Broadway run in 2004. It’s been through a number of changes over the years, having originally been produced as bare: a pop opera, which is a much more interesting title than the one it’s now got under the current licensing agreement.
I originally saw bare: a pop opera at Cromwell St Theatre during Midsumma a decade ago. This was right around the time I was discovering not all stage musicals had to be multi-million-dollar budgeted with huge casts. I was overly effusive in my praise of bare at the time, excited to see a strong local production of a score I’d heard several variations of at that point.
Ten years later, I thought I was headed to Stage …

Colder by Lachlan Philpott - Red Stitch

I’m there.
I’m sitting there in the dark.
Sitting there in the dark watching a play by Lachlan Philpott at Red Stitch.
A child has gone missing at Disneyland but nothing evokes Disneyland for me, not even the actors wearing mouse ears. Especially not the actors wearing mouse ears and affecting exaggerated American accents. I want to feel what the mother is feeling, while officious behind-the-scenes Disney workers assure her everything is going to be fine.
I want a sense of her being frantic and frustrated.
But I don’t get this sense because the language of the play is putting me at a distance. The expository monologues don’t paint a picture or flesh out a world beyond the very basic (“padded concrete, padded seats”) and the facile (“padded people”).
This choral arrangement of voices is not singing.
Eight-year-old David remains missing all day and we learn that his single mother has felt separate from him ever since. We aren’t given much of a hint of why. David, now 33, has come out …

Festival of Live Art – Rest Area, Kill Climate Deniers

The Festival of Live Art is back for the third year of nurturing and celebrating experimental, interactive and participatory artworks. You can learn to twerk, phone an artist, break things or push a button (True or False) in reaction to the statement “Capitalism Works For Me”.
I went to Arts House last night to experience a couple of the works.
Rest Area by S.J. Norman
A mattress and pillows in the back of a truck. Soft lighting. An intimate setting in an incongruous space. I climbed into the truck like I would approach any theatrical work of art – open to possibilities. But this space, while inviting, asks questions and put me on the back foot. How do I negotiate this moment with a stranger? Can I relax into this or will I be overthinking things?
Rest Area is a short, very intimate work that S.J. has performed on and off since 2007, when it first premiered in a truck outside Carriageworks in Sydney. We all bring our own baggage to any theatrical experience; this piece feels familiar an…