Melbourne, Australia

REVIEW: DreamSong for MICF

In Events, Musical Theatre, Review, Whats On on April 14, 2014 at 12:33 pm

Redemption is not at hand

By Narelle Wood

I like clever, witty, well-constructed comedy and unfortunately I found DreamSong to be absolutely none of these. While the premise of the show (a money-hungry evangelist constructing a second coming of Jesus) certainly had potential, what ensued was two hours of clichéd cheap shots at a whole range of issues, religions and minorities that I felt were extremely offensive, and I’m not easily offended.


Pastor Richard Sunday (Ben Prendergast) has realised his church is in financial peril, and along with the help of his wife Whitney (Chelsea Gibb), the prime minster (Mike Mcleish), the prime minster’s advisor (Alana Tranter) and a wannabe actor (Connor Crawford), he stages a fraudulent resurrection of the son of God. Meanwhile the pastor’s daughter April (Emily Langridge) is trying to talk the real Jesus Christ (Brent Hill) out of a crisis of confidence. Prendergast certainly looked the part of evangelic preacher but his character lacked charisma and charm that was needed to make the deception believable. Evan Lever as Neville Gruber was fabulous as the eager-to-please church follower, but it was Hill’s portrayal of Jesus Christ that actually provided the only comical parts to the show: it was pity that his character had less than twenty minutes of stage time.

Author of DreamSong, Hugo Chiarella, seems unsure about what faction of society he takes issue with. His supposedly black comedy (in my opinion it’s rarely funny) about a non-specific church mocks soldiers dying in Afghanistan, the mentally disabled, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, abortions, people suffering and dying from AIDS, homosexuality, victims of paedophilia and animal cruelty. Excluding the cast, the one redeeming feature of this musical is in fact the music provided by Robert Tripolino. I can’t say I’m a fan or have that much knowledge of Christian pop, but the range and style of music seemed perfectly matched to the premise of the show.

Perhaps a warning at the show about the offensive content may have placated how offended I was, and this then may have enabled me to see beyond those cheap shots to a concept that is worth exploring and what attracted me to the show in the first place.

Venue: Theatre Works, St Kilda
Season: Tues-Sat at 7:30pm, Sat at 2:00pm, Sun at 5:00pm, until 20th April
Tickets: Full $35| Conc $30

REVIEW: Cameron James and Jared Jekyll in PARADISE

In Comedy, Festivals, Late Night Shows, Review, Whats On on April 13, 2014 at 12:21 am

Don’t be misled by the picture…

By Margaret Wieringa

Being asked by the usher, ‘Have you got a ticket to Paradise?’ was one of my favourite non-show moments of this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival – and what a way to kick off an hour of comedy. By the time I left the room, I was exhausted from laughing.

The premise is that Cameron James and Jared Jekyll are a comedy duo who are invited by a mysterious character to perform at PICF – Paradise Island Comedy Festival. Knowing nothing about it, they head off on an adventure that turns mysterious and dangerous, and it is possible not everyone will return. And there may need to be a hilarious pretend memorial partway through the show.


Once on the island, the pair confront a number of interesting characters including the voodoo chief who shouts in a gibberish cross between rap and the Haka which is translated by another tribe member into a bizarre reggae number. Oh, and there’s the horny heir to the millionaire owner of the island. And not to forget the voyeuristic jungle animals…

These guys are great. Funny, affable and very talented. The show kicks off with their new song, Addiction, which involves some funky guitar, an awful lot of beat-boxing and mime. Big and hilarious mime.

The duo are still relatively new to the comedy world: after coming up through RAW Comedy in 2012 and 2013, Jekyll and James have been busy playing festivals and gigs across the country. It is very difficult to raise yourself above the crowd in a comedy festival with nearly five hundred shows, especially when your time-slot is at 11pm. Yet despite their frankly appalling image in the festival guide, the Locker Room was packed. The audience loved the show, rocking the room with laughter and eagerly participating whenever asked to.

It is fabulous that MICF sees so many familiar names returning and big names coming from overseas, but often my favourite moments come from seeing an act for the first time. Especially when it is an act that clearly has a lot to offer, and hopefully a big future in comedy. It’s a small room and a late night, but Paradise is more than worth the investment.

Venue: Portland Hotel – Locker Room
Dates: 27 March – 19 April (Thurs, Fri and Sat nights) 11pm
Tickets: $20 full, $15 conc
Bookings:, 1300 660 0131300 660 013 or at the door

REVIEW: The Lepidopters: A Space Opera at ARTS HOUSE

In Cabaret, Events, Performances, Theatre, Whats On on April 12, 2014 at 11:48 pm

Wonderfully weird!

By Margaret Wieringa

Aliens, in the form of moths, have invaded and are breeding with humans to create human-moth hybrids to take over the Earth starting in Jakarta. Wow.

This bizarre collaborative work has been created by Slave Pianos, Punkasila and The Astra Choir, based on a comic book commissioned from science-fiction writer Max von Schlegell.


When the audience enters the main hall at Arts House, they are immediately confronted by what appear to be two giant, deconstructed grand pianos dominating the central space. On a closer look, these are intertwined wooden structures containing a variety of gongs, and other percussion instruments, and they appear to be playing themselves.

These it turns out, are the Sedulur Gamelan or Gamelan Sisters, made up of a variety of redesigned traditional Javanese instruments. A little internet research reveals that this amazing contraption does indeed play itself. Even before the performance begins, Slave Pianos are creating ambient music. During the performance, they play a wide range of pieces both on their own and with the other performers, and this alone would have been enough to make attending this event worthwhile, but there was so much more!

Far from a traditional narrative structure, the performance is strung together over two hours with short spoken-word sections from Richard Piper who is playing a mysterious character reporting back on the events in Indonesia. The events of the story also play out in a disjointed series of videos, mostly strange animations, that run on large screens at either end of the hall. The audience is strung along the length of the room in an unusual pattern and, during the two brief intervals, is encouraged to change chairs and experience the event from a different angle.

The stunning work from the Astra Choir begins with some extreme discordant 32-part singing, and then journeys through far more traditional choral works. In the second act, we are introduced to Punkaslia from Yogyakarta, working with singer-dancer Rachel Saraswati to create their interpretation of the Lepidopters beginning the breeding process. We also get some jazz (not trad jazz, but a sort of post-modern insane style so appropriate to this performance) from pianist Michael Kieran Harvey.

The Lepidopters: A Space Opera is definitely not for everyone as this mysterious and remarkably busy show is extremely experimental and strange. In fact, a number of patrons clearly weren’t coping and left early… but it inspired a standing ovation from those who willingly remained to embrace the weird.

Venue: Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall
Dates: Sat 12 3pm and 7:30pm and Sun 13 April 5pm
Tickets: $25 full/$20 conc/$15 student
Bookings: or 9322 3713


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