Tag: charisma

REVIEW: James McLean’s BIG ENOUGH AND UGLY ENOUGH

Assorted anecdotes told with disarming charm

By Jessica Cornish

Big Enough and Ugly Enough follows James McLean’s move from the picturesque Adelaide Hills to the thriving metropolis of Melbourne. Armed with a collection of pieces of junk he dragged down in a box bestowed upon him by his dead grandmother (whose recounted voice somewhat reminded me of Aussie legend Dame Edna!), he tells us witty short stories of his encounters and misdeeds in his new life in Melbourne.

Big Enough and Ugly Enough

It seems that when you’re a newcomer to the streets of Melbourne you can easily fall into all sorts of adventures: fathering a feline, being robbed by men with a preoccupation with their navels, and landing a depressing job in the hospo industry. At least he could afford to live in an apartment alone near a tramline; being in a share house could have bought a whole other series of dramas.

James put on a great hour show: although initially starting out a little wooden and seemingly uncomfortable, he soon eased comfortably into the performance. His depiction of himself is played in a charming ‘no-frills’ way, and felt authentically like the same guy I might then encounter myself on a Melbournian street. Despite seeming a little flustered before starting at the piano, the few songs included were slick and strongly performed with well-articulated lyrics that even the oldies in the very back wooden pews could understand. Similarly his show was well-written and evidently well-rehearsed, as the smoothness of the audio cues and scene transitions relied on his carefully constructed script. I particularly enjoyed the sophisticated use of voice-overs, subtle light changes and multi-character personas adopted in each story snippet. All these elements combined to add more layers to the performance, and worked intelligently in keeping up the pace of the performance and engaging the audience throughout – a challenge which can sometimes prove difficult in one-man shows.

This show however was quirky, funny and charismatic, and his words painted pictures of some great characters you can find milling around the streets of Melbourne, and talked familiarly of iconic Melbourne hot spots such as Fitzroy and St Kilda. James is a loveable guy on stage, and you can’t help but be on his side throughout the whole night: in fact, even my male date for the evening managed to develop a bit of a crush…

Big Enough and Ugly Enough will be performed as part of the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival until September 13 at The Butterfly Club, in the prime time-slot of 8:30pm.

Tickets: https://thebutterflyclub.com/show/big-enough-and-ugly-enough

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Review: TWO-RING CIRCUS – The Songs of Crowded House

Wonderfully more than a tribute show

By Adam Tonking

The idea of sitting through the greatest hits of Crowded House as not performed by Crowded House may not sound like everyone’s cup of tea – indeed, I’m not sure it sounds like mine.

Thank God then, for Matt Bradshaw and Dominic Italiano of Two-Ring Circus, and for their masterful performance of these oh-so-familiar songs. Bradshaw and Italiano are consummate performers, and they are charming and delightful – plus you can’t deny the appeal of those songs.

Bradshaw and Italiano were inclusive and welcoming from the start – it was like hanging out with your super-awesome friends, who are wickedly talented, while they play their favourite songs with such love and joy. If these aren’t your favourite songs, they may well be by the time Two-Ring Circus are through with you. In between musical numbers they discuss the different aspects of this music that fills them with such passion and admiration, and you can’t help but be swept up by their enthusiasm.

This was clearly a well-honed act that flowed beautifully between heartfelt tribute and just damn entertaining. Bradshaw and Italiano play easily off each other, and off the audience, without any pretension or self-consciousness. Their skills as musicians are impeccable, their voices heart-melting, their guitar-playing breath-taking.

I was particularly impressed by the small details – their use of a loop machine to create a beat was a rather elegant way to get around having no drummer, and their ability to work a microphone (sadly, a rare trait in a lot of performers) left me in no doubt as to the capabilities of these performers.

Bradshaw and Italiano breathe new energy into these oft-played standards, just through their obvious love and respect for the material. Frankly, I can’t imagine enjoying Crowded House more than I did Two-Ring Circus. Run quickly to see tribute done correctly.

Two-Ring Circus – The Songs of Crowded House is on at The Butterfly Club, 204 Bank Street, South Melbourne, from Tuesday 13th March till Sunday 18th March at 8pm Tuesday & Wednesday, 9pm Thursday till Saturday, and 8pm on Sunday.

Book at www.thebutterflyclub.com and do it quick.