Trying to find the right words
By Myron My
Alice Fraser’s Word Crime is part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and in it she looks at language and how we use them to shape the world yet despite this rich resource for comedy there was ultimately very little present in this act. Fraser spent most of the time offering social commentary on how women are seen in society and about the violence that is sweeping America.
There were awkward moments in this show and I would like to put it down to preview night nerves but some of the material that was covered seemed inappropriate in such a setting. Death can be funny but trying to bring humour into topics such as suicide and her mother’s terminal suffering of MS is a very difficult thing to do especially when there is a room full of people who haven’t been warmed into your brand of comedy. There were jokes that were bordering on racist, and references to World War 2 that just didn’t work and made it difficult to connect with the performer.
There were many times that Fraser said how important words were for her as a child and how her mother would speak many languages and read poetry but unfortunately she never went further with this. The flow of delivery was a bit abrupt and we kept re-visiting topics that seemed out of place after what we had just been discussing.
Fraser seemed quite nervous on stage which is understandable for a preview, but perhaps more rehearsing was needed as she often began talking about something that was very personal, but paused, apparently remembering lines or thinking about what she was going to say next. A few times, Fraser even dismissed the attempt and went on to talk about something else.
Fraser was at her strongest when singing and playing the banjo so it’s a shame there wasn’t more of this. Her lyrics were charming and her song about being the best stalker in the land was actually quite sweet…in a stalker kind of way.
Overall, Word Crime is a concept of great potential doesn’t quite come together this time.
Venue: The Butterfly Club, 256 Collins St (entry via Carson Place), Melbourne
Season: Until 17 April | Tues-Wed, 6:00pm
Tickets: $18 Full | $14 Concession
Bookings: www.butterflyclub.com, 1300 660 013 or at the door