Bold, Brash and Full of Bobbly Bits
By Joana Simmons
Kimberly Twiner (PO PO MO CO) has enlisted some of Melbourne’s hottest babes in her latest variety show Dudebox. Sketches, songs, clowning, neo-burlesque and physical comedy all weave together to dig fingers into the ribs of the patriarchy in a humorous and delicious fashion. Artists Kimberley Twiner, the Travelling Sisters, Lily Fish (PO PO MO CO), Becky Lou (Seen and Heard Cabaret), Selina Jenkins (Beau Heartbreaker), Hallie Goodman (Spoon Monkeys), Sharnema Nougar (Two Little Dickheads) and Fox Pflueger (Max Freak) unite and it’s as good as when the Avengers got back together.
We were warmed up by the Travelling Sisters as we came in. Each sketch by different combinations of the cast was well devised and made strong statements. There was a hilarious hen’s night scene that provided some great commentary on marriage which climaxed with a performance by a feminist-stripper. Many moments had us laughing and cringing because of lustfully grotesque clowning or the revelation of truths a little too close to home.
Standouts included Beau Heartbreaker’s honest and beautiful nuances during Caravan Park Neighbour Blues. Twiner’s tradie character who was equipped with a very interesting piece of machinery and had us eating out of her hand and lapping up every little facial expression. The Travelling Sisters’ auction was a scream. The trio sang wonderful harmonies full of intensity that were completely off the wall. The beer version of Rich Man’s Frug was brilliant with its stylised and juicy choreography.
The show was stolen for me by the penultimate number: Lily Fish’s best man speech. It was beautifully bittersweet and hilariously heart-wrenching. The characterisation, content and delivery were bang on, making it an unforgettable performance.
Herding a bunch of independent artists together to create a show is mighty tricky and takes serious time and creative magic. There were some moments that unfortunately fell flat because they were either too long, lacked structure or needed more gags, choreography or spectacle.
The ending fronted by Sharnema Nougar, while incredibly costumed, didn’t do justice to the rest of the show. Maybe some kind of MC character or thread to pull everything together would have been useful. Though the costuming was brilliant, which is satisfying to see a Fringe show put in the effort to make aesthetically pleasing work, and the sound was right on cue, as was the lighting.
I am excited to see where Dudebox goes, because it’s bold, brash and full of boobs and other bobbly bits. It had enough of an effect on me that I reprimanded someone for casual sexism in the workplace the day after – such is the power of theatre like this.
Dudebox was performed 26 – 28 September at the Lithuanian Club as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival. See here for more information.