Category: Late Night Shows

REVIEW: Death Rides A Horse for MICF

Saddle up for character comedy

By Kate Boston Smith

Rama Nicholas grabs the reins with authority in her first solo show, Death Rides a Horse .  With sharp wit, excellent imagination and full commitment the multiple characters she plays this one-woman show of full force.

Having come up through the ranks of Melbourne’s rich improv scene, Nicholas proves that she has what it takes to deliver on her own.  Death Rides a Horse is an excellent parody of all those spaghetti westerns you loved as a child.

Rama Nicholas

Though some of the jokes feel a little limp at times there was absolutely no faulting her acting ability. Nicholas switched seamlessly through characters such as a cowgirl on the rise to fame, brothel madam, Latin lover, evil sheriff, trusty stead and of course, Death himself.

To watch as her wild imagination came alive on stage in front of you via all these characters was amazing.  Her simple set and use of props added discreet colour and shape to the show, as did her well-timed “blue jokes” for this late-night timeslot.   Moments I particularly enjoyed were the ‘death twins’, the Death song and I’m always a sucker for a Princess Bride reference.

Nicholas clearly has a love affair with character work, and she is excels in this area.  Due to this commitment and impressive number of characters introduced in the piece the story lacks a certain amount of meat on its bones.  This is a show of incredible craftsmanship, rather than a constant laugh out loud or ‘ROFOL’ adventure. Death Rides a Horse is to be enjoyed by those who want to wander off the (sometimes) aggressive stand-up track and take a winding trail through the prairie of one woman’s incredible imagination.

The Tuxedo Cat
27 Mar-9 Apr
Mon-Sat 10.45pm
Sun 9.45pm

Revolt Melbourne
11-20 Apr
Tue-Sat 7.30pm
Sun 5.30pm

Booking details can be found here.

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REVIEW: Ali McGregor’s LATE-NITE VARIETY-NITE NIGHT

Comedy cabaret compendium is a nite to remember

By Bradley Storer

Introduced by her sullen handmaiden Flaxen McGinty (Virginia Ginty), the radiant Ali McGregor sauntered down through the audience, serenading us with sensual song and sublime vocals.

Ali McGregor

Although more than capable of entertaining us all by herself, the former Opera Australia leading lady took to the stage to present a rotating cast of comedians, burlesque and cabaret performers in what has become one of the main-stay events of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

On this particular night there was a wonderful selection of talent on display. Matt Okine, last year’s Best Newcomer at the Comedy Festival, showed great comedic skill as he regaled us with the awkward tale of having an African father and a former Nazi Youth for a grandfather (‘he wasn’t Nazi enough that he killed Jews,’ Okine reassured us, ‘…Just enough to be pope’). With bright eyes and a cheeky smile, burlesque performer Agent Lynch unveiled an instrument McGregor later informed us was called a ‘vagilaphone’.

Renowned international cabaret duo EastEnd Cabaret dropped in for an exclusive performance, chanteuse Bernadette Byrne and her sidekick Victor Victoria raising the temperature of the evening with a saucy accordion cover of ‘I’m Too Sexy’. Comedian Dave Callan closed the night with a spontaneous, fully choreographed performance of Beyonce’s ‘Crazy in Love’, complete with back-up dancers, that brought down the house.

McGregor interspersed songs from her latest album throughout the show, including jazz and funk re-vamped versions of 80’s songs by The Prodigy and Salt ‘n’ Pepa. Her ‘buttress’ McGinty joined in on duets with her velvetly smooth voice, also taking centre stage herself to sing a cheeky tune dedicated to the virtues of her hand-crafted chair (to be understood in all its smutty glory, it must be seen in context). A true ‘late night’ show which combines ribaldry, entertainment and cheap low-brow humour all with a hint of classiness, a delicious cocktail of after-dark delights.

TIME: 10:30 (9:30 Sunday)

VENUE: The Famous Spiegeltent at the Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Rd

TICKETS: Thur/Sun $30, Fri/Sat $35, Conc Thur/Sun $25, Conc Fri/Sat $30, Group (6+) $25

BOOKING: www.ticketmaster.com.au, www.comedyfestival.com.au, Ticketmaster 1300 660 013, Arts Centre 1300 182 183, or at the venue.

Review: IMPRO MELBOURNE’s Late Night Impro

Get spontaneous for MICF!

By Myron My

For those who are looking for something a little different for this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival, look no further than this, Impro Melbourne’s Late Night Impro performance with their season of Stuck In The Middle.

Improvised comedy is non-scripted comedy based on spontaneity from the performers. Think Who’s Line Is It Anyway? and Thank God You’re Here and you’ll have a pretty good idea on what this is all about.

The premise of this 55-minute, mind-blowing, pure-craziness-of-a-show involves one performer being ‘stuck’ in the middle of the stage with five or six improvisers coming at them with various games and scenes that they must participate in. There is no break for our lone target as the predators surround him. Only sheer smarts and wits will get him out of this alive.

The beauty of improvisation is that every night you treated to a completely different performance. No two shows are ever the same. The improvisers are always different as are the special guests, who have so far included Rama Nicholas, Cal Wilson, Andrew Mclelland and Eric Amber being “stuck in the middle”.

Highlights from Saturday night’s performance were some white male gangsta-rapping, tackling homosexuality in 1970s Spain and a brief history of how Napoleon won Waterloo.  The audience feedback afterwards was nothing but positive, especially from people who had never seen this sort of comedy performance before.

With only two nights left this is the show you must see if you are looking for something inspiring and completely different to stand-up performances during the 2012 Comedy Festival.

VENUE
Melbourne Town Hall
DATES
13 – 14 April
TIMES
Fri-Sat 11pm
PRICES
Full $20
, Concession $15
BOOKINGS
Ticketmaster: 1300 660 013

REVIEW: The Butterfly Club Presents KELFI AND FIKEL

Let’s hear it for the girls

By Maxine Montgomery

Kelfi and Fikel (aka Kellie Della Ca and Fiona Higgins) began their show by walking into the intimate showroom at The Butterfly Club and saying hello to the audience. They asked the names of a few of us and in that moment, we were all put deliciously on edge, unsure if we were going to be called up for audience participation or left in peace. The girls then opened the show with a stint of casual banter, giving a feel of having being invited over for coffee and a chat. It set the tone for an evening of frankness, irreverence and fun.

From the outset, their long standing friendship was obvious – they clearly share a similar twisted sense of humour, and they have an inherent love and understanding of each other. These factors combined serve them very well throughout the show. Their character-based sketches are slick, clever and fast-paced in delivery. Kellie and Fiona have created a broad range of characters, and through them they are able to pass comment on anything and everything. Without these characters, they may not be able to push the envelope as far as they do and still have the audience on side. I found myself fully engaged in all scenarios, bar one – the less-than-macho koala and kangaroo sketch. After beginning well and bringing forth giggles from the audience, it seemed to run too long and in doing so, lost some of its impact.

The sketch comedy of Kelfi and Fikel is strongly supported by their original songs and their delivery of same. The girls’ voices seem to be made to sing together. Backed by Kellie’s capable piano-playing, their vocals are strong and their written harmonies are delivered with confidence. Their opening song, “We Go Together”, is a wonderful catalogue of all the best and worst pairings that have ever been – I sat there crying with laughter thinking, “Oh, no, they didn’t just go there?!” One of my favourite moments started as something of a nod to “My Favourite Things” and ended up as a euphemistic love letter to the vagina… Fine line trodden? Yes… Side-splittingly funny? Oh, my word, yes!

Kelfi and Fikel have created a show that is ‘oh, so right’ because in places it is ‘oh, so wrong’. These two know how to have fun, not take themselves too (at all?!) seriously, and invite the audience along for the ride. If you’re a fan of the likes of The Fast Show and The Catherine Tate Show, then the comedy and music of Kelfi and Fikel is sure to delight.

The show runs at The Butterfly Club as a part of the 2012 Melbourne Comedy Festival every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night at 10:20pm until April 21. For tickets, go to www.thebutterflyclub.com

Review: MORGAN & WEST – Time Travelling Magicians

From international television to their intimate live performance: make the time to see this

By Jen Coles

As a fan of magic, I was delighted to hear the Penn-and-Teller-fooling duo Morgan & West were coming to town. As time-travelling magicians from the past, Rhys Morgan and Robert West have prepared an hour to amaze and amuse every member lucky enough to be in the audience.

Featuring a lineup of traditional tricks such as the cup and balls (reinvented to have its own unique and hilarious twist), as well as their own magical inventions, the pair’s talent is incredible.  Their chemistry together makes for some wonderful interplay to break up the show, and they also have a wonderful mastery of audience participation.

Due to the intimate nature of the Butterfly Club venue, the chances of getting picked were high, however the pair relaxed the audience, and made us excited to be a part of their fantastic show.

 The pair, whilst having their own unique talents, also blend together well to create the notion of the ‘false reveal’. A supposed messed-up trick allowed the show to have a through-line with some build, and therefore the final payoff that ended the show was outstanding.

 However, for a show that was so brilliant, it seemed sadly, a little too short as a one-hour block. West briefly demonstrated a talent with cards, and I would have liked to see more card magic  in their program; the hour just flew by, and it was sad to see them go.

The fact that the pair happily shook hands with every audience member upon their exit sums up their performance style perfectly. Wonderfully charismatic and genuine gentlemen, Morgan & West light up the stage with a talent that clearly deserves a long career. We can only hope they tour here more often… or perhaps they can lend us their time-travel secrets to see the show once more.

 

Morgan & West: Time Travelling Magicians

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 204 Bank St, South Melbourne

Season: Fri 24th – Sat 25th, 10.30pm

Bookings: www.thebutterflyclub.com

REVIEW: Joe Black in SEX, DRUGS AND VAUDEVILLE

Take a turn on the dark side…

By Bradley Storer

Beginning the performance with a simple booming ‘Good evening ladies and gentlemen!’, the manically energetic Joe Black, making an immediate impression with his ghoulishly glittery face, barrelled onstage and launched into a song by fellow British cabaret artists Fascinating Aida, a spritely ditty about the pleasures of public fornication. This off-colour but hilarious opener set the tone for the rest of the evening, straddling the line between comedy and darkness expertly.

This is not an evening for the faint-hearted: subjects range from the joys of pyromania to the exploits of a heart-broken cannibal. Black covers many classics of the dark cabaret scene, including songs by the Tiger Lillies, Tom Waits and the Dresden Dolls, as well as original compositions discussing topics such as friends who ‘overshare’ on social networking sites. There are also more popular songs (Black’s Britney Spears cover is a particular delight), layered with a sinister twist – let’s just say I’ll never hear ‘You Are My Sunshine’ in quite the same way again.

Joe Black himself is charmingly demented. A musical and vocal chameleon, he swaps between piano and ukulele skilfully (which makes one regretful about his inability to smuggle his accordion past customs) and his voice switches at different times from a politely soft-spoken tenor, to a devilishly seductive Tom Waits-style croon, to a gospel-inflected roar reminiscent of Jason Webley.

The show itself still seems in development – segues between songs and the overall structure felt muddled, with connections in story not being as clearly developed as they could be. To be fair, this was probably not helped by Black’s admitted jet-lag or having to deal with an unusually talkative audience who interjected continually without warning – however this just goes to show, despite the darkness of his persona, how approachable Black made himself appear and how relaxed he had made his audience.

Despite some opening night glitches and some polishing still be done, Black is clearly a true cabaret performer, delivering a professional performance and forging such a strong connection with his audience that they spontaneously demanded a second encore – a rare sight! Such an enthusiastic response bodes well for the rest of Black’s first season in Australia, with the show undoubtedly growing even stronger with more performances.  

Until Nov 27th at The Butterfly Club

www.misterjoeblack.com

MELBOURNE CABARET FESTIVAL 2011: Ticket Sales Are Booming!

100 performers, 78 performances, 7 venues – and only 6 nights!

It’s now only a few days until the non-stop cabaret begins, and all 32 shows for the second annual Melbourne Cabaret Festival (Tue July 19- Sun 24) are selling out once again.

This year’s program includes a particularly impressive line-up of our own Melbourne favourites, renowned national artists, and some surprise international performers all coming together to historic South Melbourne for one week of outstanding and outrageous entertainment.

From the fun and frivolity with comedy cabaret, music theatre, vaudeville and New-York-style, to the clever and edgy explorations of vaudeville, burlesque, queer shows and dark cabaret, there’s something different, delightful, delicious and decadent for every taste.

So what’s our pick of the fest? Got to admit, we’re pretty excited about The Beautiful Losers back to horrify audiences with song and satire, the intriguing Filthy Secrets from the disturbing mind of Karin Muiznieks, and the triumphant festival return of the glamorous and glorious Petticoat Soiree.

Also worth watching out for will be Le Gateau Chocolat, Queenie Van de Zandt, Jon Jackson, Emma Dean, The Jane Austen Argument, Tina Del Twist, Dolly Diamond, and Emma Clair Ford, along with a host of upcoming cabaret stars, plenty of quirky, creepy or hilarious new shows, and some special events such as Trevor Jones’ Piano Bar and the best of Short+Sweet Cabaret.

Tickets start from just $15 at www.melbournecabaret.com where you can also find all the show details to pique your patronage, because with only six days to see the all best cabaret in town, you’ll need to book fast!