Sunday, 7 April 2019

Melbourne Comedy Festival – Fringe Wives Club in “Glittergrass”

The expanded Fringe Wives Club in "Glittergrass"

The Fringe Wives Club has taken their first show “Glittery Clittery” around the world, where they fought The Patriarchy with #Glamtivism. It was a variety show where they mixed in songs and storytelling and audience participation. With such a clear vision, the three original members might have done more of the same in a new show – but to avoid the notorious “difficult second album”, they have expanded the band and their repertoire.

Tessa Waters, Rowena Hutson, Vicky Falconer-Pritchard – the original Fringe Wives – have invited Laura Frew and Sharnema Nougar on board, along with a band, to stage a bluegrass show with sequins instead of rhinestones. They may have more of a budget now, but it doesn’t quite stretch to gemstones yet.

The show starts off with a medley of pop songs you’ll recognise – feminist anthems remade in the style of country songs, as the Wives welcome you to their hoedown. It sets the mood for a concert that embraces and amplifies the multitude of talents amongst these five amazing women.

There are songs about examining their own privilege, about female bushrangers and about how they are committed to embracing intersectional feminism – patting themselves on the back, while leaving out the voice of the Vicky, the only non-white member of the Club.

As with “Glittery Clittery,” the subject matter is tricky but it’s always entertaining. The songs and arrangements are toe-tapping and knee-slapping, even as you think about your own privilege or try to live up to their rule “you can have a dick, but don’t be a dick.” But you never feel lectured to. You’re singing or clapping or laughing as much as anything.

“Glittergrass” is fresh and new. The production values are incredible; costumes, lighting and sound are impeccable. There are a few rough edges in transitions between songs and the final song didn’t feel like a finale, but this is a next bold step in the evolution of the Fringe Wives Club. Get along and party with these women – and if you love them, buy some of their glittery merch.

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