Tag: Comedy Theatre

Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2017: WIL ANDERSON is CRITICALLY ILL

Poignantly and gloriously funny

By Jessica Cornish

Exuding wit, personality and bundles of charisma, Wil Anderson is proudly performing his newest show Critically Ill for his twenty-second consecutive appearance at the 2017 Melbourne International Comedy Festival at the iconic Comedy Theatre.

Critically Wil.jpg

Anderson’s high-energy show examined the dire state of the world and the biggest problems facing our society ranging from climate change, privilege and domestic violence. His show boldly makes fun of the ignorance and absurdities displayed by members of our society who arm themselves with a lack of facts and knowledge sourced from the world of Facebook and Buzzfeed. Accordingly, Anderson repeatedly emphasised that we are currently living a world where facts no longer matter nor hold value, which is best exemplified by the 2016 Oxford dictionary’s word of the year ‘post-truth’ meaning that ‘objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’.

Anderson’s show is beyond hilarious and every minute was a pleasure, which is no easy feat considering the bleak subject matter. The 75-minute stand-up routine is well-structured and fast-paced as he cleverly highlighted the world on the brink of disaster with such animation and joy despite the stark realities he speaks about. The show also has a beguiling more personal element touching on his family background growing up as the son and grandson of a dairy farmer from a rural Australian town and growing in to the person and life he wanted to create for himself. I particularly enjoyed his lively imitations of himself, friends and politicians as he coaxes you into his version of the truth which he asserts should itself always be questioned.

Wil Anderson’s Critically Ill is thought-provoking, bleak and joyfully funny all at once: catch him while you can.

The Comedy Theatre, cnr Lonsdale & Exhibition Sts, Melbourne

Wed 29 Mar – Sat 1 Apr: 8.45pm;
Sun 2 Apr: 6pm;
Wed 5 Apr & Thu 6 Apr: 8.45pm;
Fri 7 Apr: 9.30pm;
Sun 9 Apr: 6pm;
Wed 12 Apr – Fri 14 Apr: 8.45pm;
Sun 16 Apr: 6pm;
Wed 19 Apr – Fri 21 Apr: 8.45pm;
Sun 23 Apr: 6pm
 

AUSLAN: Wed 5 Apr: 8.45pm
Buy tickets through Ticketmaster

Wed & Thu $34.90
Fri $49.90

http://www.ticketmaster.com.au

Arts Centre Melbourne
State Theatre, 100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Sat 15 Apr and Sat 22 Apr: 9pm 
Buy tickets through Arts Centre Melbourne

Sat $54.90
Sun $44.90

www.artscentremelbourne.com.au

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Melbourne Premiere of THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG

Raucous and riotous hilarity guaranteed

By Myron My

Before The Murder at Haversham Manor begins, the newly-elected president of Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, Chris Bean (Nick Simpson-Deeks), appears on stage to welcome the audience. Bean is also the director of the play and assures us that this will be the most impressive performance ever put on by this thespian group. However, when this 1920’s themed whodunnit is a play within a play called The Play That Goes Wrong, well…it’s fair to say that nothing goes according to plan, but the show must go on. And so it does, with many laughs along the way.

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While The Murder at Haversham Manor plays out like an Agatha Christie-style plot, The Play That Goes Wrong reveals what happens on the Drama Society stage’s as the actors contend with missing items, breaking props, forgotten lines and unconscious colleagues. While comparisons to the classic Noises Off are undeniable, there is still a freshness to the performance with the fun and laughs remaining constant, even if there are a handful of times when jokes become slightly repetitive or are milked too much.

The entire cast embrace their characters, who in turn embrace their characters, and ultimately deliver near-perfect comedy timing. They are more than up to the challenge when it comes to meeting the physical demands of the production with high energy and dedication, while under the brilliant eye of Australian cast director Sean Turner. Darcy Brown (who plays Max Bennett who in turn plays Cecil Haversham and Arthur the Gardener), is particularly joyful to watch, especially when he’s giving his charades-like performance as he speaks his lines. Brooke Satchwell as Sandra, plays the grieving fiancée Florence Colleymoore – as does Tammy Weller, who also plays the stage manager Annie Twilloil. Both are energetic with Satchwell (or is that Sandra) playing the intentional melodramatics of Florence perfectly and Tammy as Twilloil’s transformation from shy stage manager to determined and ferocious actor is a joy to watch. If all this isn’t confusing enough, then you’re already ahead of the pack!

I initially attempted to hear every word that was being said, but with the riotous laughter that filled the Comedy Theatre, it was not always possible. Fortunately, it’s not simply the story that matters here. While Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields have written a fun and surprisingly intelligent double narrative (for what we are watching), it is the visual aesthetics of Nigel Hook‘s impressive set design brimming with surprises and “danger” at every turn that reels you in.

While there is not much good that can be said about The Murder at Haversham Manor, it’s a completely different story for The Play That Goes Wrong. It’s a stylishly comic production that exists simply for laughs, and nothing but laughs; and from beginning to end – especially in the uproarious second act – there are plenty to be had. While everything that can go wrong goes wrong in the play within the play, this production itself itself hits all the right marks.

Venue: The Comedy Theatre, 240 Exhibition Street, Melbourne
Season:
In Melbourne until 26 March, before an Australian-wide tour
Tickets:
From $99.90
Bookings: The Play That Goes Wrong

Eddie Perfect’s THE BEAST

Relentless satire and fiercely funny

By Bradley Storer

Eddie Perfect’s The Beast, under the direction of Simon Phillips, has made its return to Melbourne at the Comedy Theatre, and set its sights squarely on the Australian middle class. A vicious and satirical examination of class warfare of this ilk hasn’t been seen since the like of Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnagebe warned, there will be (literal) blood.

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The piece seems particularly suited to a Melbourne audience – the skewering of the affluent and aspirational upper middle class and their conflicts of status anxiety were met with uproarious laughter and applause, with a sense that these people were entirely familiar to those in the crowd.

Alison Bell as the acerbic outsider Marge drew big laughs with her biting wit, and a bone-dry sarcasm that was wielded to maximum effect in every scene. The warmth underneath the barbs was obvious in her interactions with her husband Baird, played by Perfect in addition to writing the text. Perfect touchingly conveys an average man doomed to the eternal ridicule of his pretentious friends while never fully understanding why – the character’s reversal of fortune in a cunning coup later in the piece, while satisfying to watch, feels almost too contrived and convenient to the plot.

Rohan Nichol was astonishingly awful as the smarmy self-appointed ‘leader’ of the male trio Simon, managing to elicit groans with his overbearing sense of entitlement and arrogance, while Christie Whelan Browne as his put-upon wife Gen was the perfect mixture of air-headed sweetness and burning resentment that exploded into some truly hilarious antics during the dinner party scene.

The only weakpoint of the sextet is the third couple – Toby Truslove as the rapidly crumbling Rob manages to find the underlying sweetness and sensitivity of the character but it never fully coalesces into a full characterization beyond the character’s overall oddball escapades and quirks. Heidi Arena as Sue fully commits to her character’s smiling and cheerful hypocrisies but has been directed to play so big that it feels self-consciously artificial to the point of caricature. Peter Houghton ably plays a variety of smaller roles, managed to shift chameleon-like into different characters so diverse that he is almost unrecognizable between them.

While the middle section of the play is wonderfully structured and cleverly written, with a scene involving the slaughter of a cow that had the audience falling out of their seats laughing, the opening scene and the underlying mystery which it wraps around the rest of the piece appears so out of place (and is dealt with so quickly at the conclusion) that it seems almost unnecessary to have them.  Watching these characters scrap and vie for dominion is so entertaining in itself and artfully depicted that I would have gladly watched it all night!

Venue: The Comedy Theatre, 240 Exhibition St, Melbourne VIC 3000

Date: 25th August – 10th September

Times: Wednesday – Saturday 7:30pm, Saturday 2pm, Sunday 1pm & 5pm

Prices: $79.90 – $129.90

Bookings: www.ticketmaster.com.au, Ph: 1300 723 038, at the box office.

Image by Ken Nakanishi

MICF 2016: Charlie Pickering’s HOW TO TAME A WILD SQUIRREL

Clever and charismatic fun

By Jessica Cornish

Charlie Pickering’s How To Tame A Wild Squirrel is showing for just one more Thursday evening at the Comedy Theatre as part of this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

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In his first stand-up show for several years, Charlie easily and amusingly interacted with his audience, and did especially well dealing with the influx of latecomers. He cleverly weaved their stories into one another, managing to keep his audience entertained rather than annoyed at the general lack of punctuality.

Admittedly, his show wasn’t exactly what I expected, knowing him principally as I do for his television work. I wasn’t quite prepared for the moderate use of expletives that would just appear in and out of dialogue, for example. I know comedians generally love to throw in an f-bomb, but in my mind, news reporter Charlie Pickering would be a bit different!

The show included an appealing  mixture of personal narratives and broader observations, specifically around the themes of racism and the fickle beast that is the internet. He comically explored how it has changed all our lives drastically- sometimes for the better and at times for the worse. He also threw in some vivid and impressive voice impersonations, switching effortlessly through a myriad of news character personas which were thoroughly enjoyed by the crowd. Whilst there was a loose theme running through the show, he would sometimes lose focus and saddle up onto another topic before the other had been resolved, which felt occasionally disconcerting.

Under his sway, the theatre had a warm intimate feel to it and Charlie seemed very comfortable in the performance space, moving extensively across the stage. He definitely would have benefited from using a hands-free mic however, as a couple of times he came close to stumbling on the long cord wrapped around his foot, and turning his sharp witty comedy into slapstick!

His show wrap-up was a highlight, with hilarious stories bordering on the absurd. In fact the whole row in which I was sitting broke out in uproarious laughter, and it seemed a shame to be so suddenly ending as the hour came by. How To Tame A Wild Squirrel is well worth a peek at Pickering in person, to get a different perspective of the well-known TV entertainer back to his roots as a stand-up solo comic.

DATE: Thursday 14 April
VENUE: The Comedy Theatre
ADDRESS: 240 Exhibition Street, Melbourne
TIME: 7PM

TICKETS: http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2016/season/shows/how-to-tame-a-wild-squirrel-charlie-pickering

 

REVIEW: Richard O’Brien’s ROCKY HORROR SHOW

Give yourself over to absolute pleasure…

By Myron My

I will confess: I have never before seen The Rocky Horror Show on stage. Yes, shocking, I know. In fact, the only time I have even seen the film was three years ago at an outdoor cinema event. So I was filled with much antici…pation when attending the Melbourne opening night of this new production, celebrating 40 years of Richard O’Brien’s outrageous musical creation.

To cut to the chase; I simply loved this show. Everything about it is flawless and fun. From the performances to costumes to the sets and lighting and of course, the music: I just could not fault it.

Rocky Horror Show

Tim Maddren and Christie Whelan Browne are perfectly cast as newly engaged couple, Brad and Janet. They radiate naivety and innocence, their  singing ability throughout the show was highly impressive, and their interaction with each other is a joy to watch. In fact, every single person on stage clearly loves their characters, but none more so than Craig McLachlan as Frank-N-Furter. From his initial grand entrance in those trademark fishnets, he has everyone hanging on his every word and movement and makes every new crazy development feel like it’s the most memorable scene in this rock ‘n’ roll musical. McLachlan’s improvised moments with the full house on opening night were particularly hilarious and he even managed to break his fellow actors into unavoidable laughter on more than one occasion.

The musical numbers are a thrill to watch and you can’t help but fight the urge to get up to sing and dance along to the well-known classics such as ‘Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me’ and ‘The Time Warp’, the latter which allows Kristian Lavercombe (Riff Raff) to show off his brilliant vocal talents.

The costumes by Sue Blane and wigs by Darren Ware are – pardon the pun – out of this world. From the initial simple and modest costuming of Brad and Janet to the wondrously crazy outfits for Riff Raff and Magenta (beautifully played by Erika Heynatz), the creation of these gems showcases dynamic design and visual excitement.

There are many more flamboyant, funny and fantastical moments throughout The Rocky Horror Show that make the event special – but instead of listing them all here, I just encourage you to go and witness them yourself. It will be a strange journey indeed, but it will also be an unforgettable evening of dazzling fun.

Venue: Comedy Theatre, 240 Exhibition St, Melbourne
Season: Until 13 July | Tues – Sat 8:00pm, Sat 2pm, Sun 1.30pm and 5.30pm
Tickets: From $59.80 – $109.90
Bookings: http://www.ticketmaster.com.au