Tag: comedy

REVIEW: Anne Gasko in WHEN I GROW UP

Charming, clever and well-crafted cabaret

By Narelle Wood

When I Grow Up is a truthfully whimsical trip down memory lane when adulthood seemed so simple and anything was possible. Anne Gasko, in her one-woman cabaret show, asks all the important questions about what growing up really means and if being an adult means giving up on the dream of owning a unicorn.

When I Grow Up.jpg

Through the combination of song and stand-up Gasko begins with her young and impressionable childhood where eating sprinkles for every meal was an acceptable dream and making friends was as simple as identifying one, potentially tenuous, similarity. Gasko contrasts this with the awkwardness and self-consciousness of making friends as an adult. This is just the beginning of stories of growing up and the harsh realities of grocery shopping, paying bills and growing boobs, and the effects of watching too much Disney on your relationships.

Gasko’s performance is both endearing and edgy; her comedy starts in seeming innocence but as the performance continues, it becomes increasingly more adult and a little bit angsty. The combination works, and much like growing up you come out the other side relatively unscathed at the humorous reminiscing. The song component of the cabaret are well selected, reworded, and just as well performed: Gasko’s rendition of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was captivating. The only disappointment was that the show didn’t seem to go for long enough and I left wanting more. All of Gasko’s humour hit the mark and it was easy to identify with her observational comedy.

While Gasko does lament the difficulty of making friends with the cool crowd, everything about her performance oozes cool. This a short but sweet way to spend some time having a chuckle at the naivety of childhood and the difficult, but mostly awesome journey, into adulthood.

Venue: The Butterfly Club, Carson Place
Season: 7pm until 29th November
Tickets: Full $32 | Conc $28
Bookings: thebutterflyclub.com/show/when-i-grow-up

REVIEW: Becky Lou in SHAKE

Sexy, funny, resolute and resounding

By Myron My

Fittingly having her Melbourne premiere of Shake at iconic venue The Butterfly Club, Becky Lou lives up to her show’s title. Twirling tassels, bouncing breasts and jiggling buttocks; there is a lot of shaking going on. However, there is more to this show than just sexy and entertaining burlesque routines, as they are interspersed with Becky Lou’s musings on significant moments in her life that have led to her career as a burlesque performer.

Shake

Shake is a well-crafted show that allows Becky Lou to expose herself in more than just the literal sense. Beginning with memories of her four-year-old self dancing topless in a supermarket to Madonna’s Like A Virgin, each story that Becky Lou shares has a purpose. It’s not for entertainment value, it’s not to shock us, but it’s to strengthen the relationship women have with their bodies.

Women are being constantly told to cover up yet to “show us ya tits”, are made to feel imperfect yet subjected to continuous sexual harassment. What Becky Lou does with Shake is invite women to reclaim their bodies, to own their bodies and be proud of them. In this regard, Shake reminded me of a similarly beautiful and thought-provoking show in Maude Davey’s My Life In The Nude.

Like so many burlesque performers, these women should not be congratulated or fawned over for being “brave” about performing nude. They should be admired for being strong women who love their bodies and for taking power away from the male gaze. Becky Lou shares stories from her life in a non-confrontational way so that she does not create a divide with the audience. With a fine balance of comedy timing and frustration and derision towards a patriarchal society, we are all equally disgusted when she informs us of the policeman who wolf-whistled at her when she was just fourteen.

The burlesque routines in Shake highlight the skill and creativity that had Becky Lou crowned Miss Burlesque Victoria in 2013, among numerous other titles. She captures the sexiness and the mischief of the art form but each number is unique in style, costume and the character that she takes. The most memorable ones of the evening were her opening and closing numbers, the latter bringing her story full circle and the former showing us exactly why she is a force to be reckoned with in the world of burlesque.

Shake is more than just a show to titillate or excite us. There is heart and truth in the stories that Becky Lou shares with us, and in the message that she wants to get across. At one point, she confesses that she is most nervous about using her voice in the show because it’s not something she usually does in burlesque. She needn’t be nervous at all though, because we are enthralled by every word she says just as much as every item of clothing she removes.

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne
Season: Until 12 July | Thur-Sat 9:00pm, Sunday 8:00pm
Tickets: $32 Full | $28 Conc
Bookings: The Butterfly Club

REVIEW: Chris Taylor and Andrew Hansen: In Conversation With Lionel Corn

The Chaser do-over Q and A

By Caitlin McGrane

The Chaser stars Chris Taylor and Andrew Hansen are here to ruin audience Q and As forever. Fictional author Lionel Corn is somewhere between Groundskeeper Willie, Malcolm Tucker and George R.R. Martin. However, I’m not sure there’s enough under-shirt padding in the world that could make Andrew Hansen even vaguely resemble Martin in this almost totally transparent reference to the author in their debut MICF show. Corn’s pairing with Taylor’s totally inept interviewer/MC was wonderful; that I cannot remember his name has only enhanced the effective awfulness of his character and his love of his own voice.

Chaser

In this show Taylor and Hansen do what they’ve always done best – lampooned popular culture and social conventions in order to score satirical points. Their fantastic send-up of The Festival of Dangerous Ideas, in which Lionel Corn was interviewed by the worst moderator in the world, had me laughing and cringing throughout. They opened well, with an extended gag about walk-on music that effectively called out the ridiculous music that always accompanies speakers onstage, to which literally no one else pays attention.

The whole show was a send-up of the endless festivals that we all love to attend – writers’, emerging writers’, film, dangerous ideas etc, etc. It also very satirically lambasted shows like Q&A, with their refusal to engage in a conversation about the lack of women and trans people on screen.

The only part that let the show down slightly was a bizarre sequence involving a disease invented by Corn/Hansen called ‘Parkinsons of the arse’; it felt cheap and poorly thought out. I also missed out on seeing the promised guest comedian, but enjoyed the explanation of the empty chair on stage as symbolising the journalists and broadcasters who were locked up for political dissidence, or who couldn’t be there due to a schedule mix-up.

While the show isn’t exactly as groundbreaking or biting as some of their Chaser sketches, it was engaging, entertaining and kept me laughing.

Venue: The Forum

Season: Until Sunday 19 April (excl. Mon) Tue-Sat 7pm, Sun 6pm

Tickets: Full $34| Conc $30

Bookings: http://www.comedyfestival.com.au

REVIEW: Claire Sullivan presents Space Cadet

A comedic space adventure

By Caitlin McGrane

Claire Sullivan’s madcap space adventure started well; her voice appeared from behind the audience over a $2 megaphone to hurry people in from the bar at Hugs & Kisses. The show began with an unusual level of audience participation – Sullivan invited everyone in the intimate theatre-cum-dance floor onto the stage where we were told we were going into space and had to participate in the take-off. This level of participation was about all I was ready to handle, and am very glad I was not called upon when Sullivan instructed the audience to ask questions about space. I enjoyed this mini Q & A but couldn’t help feeling like this was stalling for time.

Claire Sullivan

The performance was often enjoyably frenetic, disjointed and ludicrous – the moments where Sullivan shone were where she was ad-libbing and interacting with the audience (which appeared to be mostly made up of her friends and former singing teachers). The weakest parts for me were when the seemingly vague script forced Sullivan to flail on stage and reach for props from plastic bags; it didn’t seem so much hilariously zany as it appeared disorganised.

Sullivan is certainly talented and I enjoyed her raw comedic energy, but I found myself distracted by her attempts to wrestle with technology and direct the show towards a coherent conclusion. It was the first night of the show, and these things often take time to fine tune, but I am aware that this show has been performed in Perth so I was surprised by how scattered it seemed. I look forward to seeing what Sullivan does next, and I hope her next show is tighter and sharper because I do thoroughly believe she has it in her to produce something brilliantly bonkers that tells a great story.

Venue: Hugs and Kisses, 22 Sutherland Street, Melbourne

Season: Until 18th April, 8pm (no show Sundays)

Tickets: Full $17 | Conc $12

Bookings: http://www.trybooking.com/GPYC

 

REVIEW: Katerina Vrana presents About Sex

Lets talk about sex

By Myron My

Let’s talk about sex baby. If you like my body and you think I’m sexy. Let me play with your body make you real hot. Despite these three sentences being lyrics to three very well known songs about sex, they also encapsulate Katerina Vrana’s show, aptly titled About Sex.

Katerina Vrana

Born in Greece but having lived almost two decades in England, Vrana has a wealth of stories and anecdotes to share of these two cultures and their dealings with sex. Her impersonations of her family members, including her mother and father, are brilliant but it is when she talks about her 17-year-old brother asking her for sex advice that things really get cracking. One simple question from him is all it takes for the audience to be simultaneously shocked and howling in laughter.

Vrana covers a range of topics, from her first one-night stand to the differences between single sex, married sex, and gay and lesbian sex, however her focus is pretty much on sex pre-1994 and sex post-1994. Why 1994? Generally speaking, that’s when Internet porn took over the world and changed everyone’s ideas about what sex is and should be.

Vrana has great comedic timing on stage and her delivery and facial expressions of punch lines is impeccable. She knows exactly how far to push the envelope and then step back to let us take it all in before she gets straight back into it.

As an added bonus, Thursday night shows are performed in Greek, so it’s a perfect opportunity for those Greek grandchildren out there to take your grandparents out on the town for a laugh and some fun.

Vrana’s insights in About Sex are more than just cheap dick jokes and ‘wham-bang thank you ma’am’ type of comedy. Vrana is opening up discussion about sex so we are not ashamed or embarrassed by it or our bodies; after all, we all do it, so why shouldn’t we enjoy doing it and talking about it?

Venue: Elephant & Wheelbarrow, Cnr. Bourke and Exhibition St. Melbourne.

Season: Until 18 April | Thurs-Tue 8:30pm

Tickets: $20 Full | $15 Conc

Bookings: TixNoFee

REVIEW: Paul Culliver is The Best Newcomer

An endearing comedy

By Narelle Wood

Self-proclaimed Best Newcomer Paul Culliver delivers 4 ½ star comedy. Covering all the important topics from dating, nuclear war, fitness and a definitive solution to any human resource issues, Culliver’s comedic timing is brilliant.

Paul Culliver

Most of Culliver’s humour centres on self-deprecation and observational comedy, but as with most comedians, Culliver sees things from an exceptionally unique perspective. The performance space is quite intimate, and Culliver interacts with the audience with ease. This is especially evident in the off-the-cuff moments where things haven’t quite gone to plan, and a completely unfazed Culliver, takes it all in his stride.

I was a little worried at the beginning of the show as Culliver’s delivery seemed frenetic and he was talking so quickly I couldn’t quite catch what he was saying. Thankfully this didn’t last very long and the pace and atmosphere soon relaxed. The ending was a little philosophical for where I thought the show was heading; this aside it was a show full of chuckles.

Culliver is endearing and I especially liked the way he spoke to everyone as they left the venue. The show’s one of the shorter ones in the Comedy Festival and its late night, time slot would actually work really well for anyone looking to wrap up their evening with some great laughs.

Venue: Highlander Bar, 11a Highlander Lane, Melbourne

Season: Tue-Sat 9.45pm, until 18th April

Tickets: Full $15| Conc $10

Bookings: http://www.trybooking.com

REVIEW: Darebin Arts Speakeasy presents Backwards

A terrific hoot

by Rachel Holkner

Backwards is the result of a collaboration with students at Brunswick East Primary School and my burning question is, when they come to see the show, which parts do they recognise as their own? Is it the characters? Are there anecdotes they told Emily Taylor that have made their way into the script? Perhaps it is the huge variety of physicalities and tics of the people she portrays. It is simply impossible to tell as Taylor owns it all and is fully committed to her every moment on stage.

emily taylor

Written and performed by Emily Taylor, Backwards is an exploration of childhood and the relationships between adults and children. But it’s not your traditional standup, it’s a one woman minimalist play. With a set made up of only the world’s ugliest kitchen chair, and with the ingenious sound design of Gus MacMillan, Taylor is able to convey half a dozen unique interior and exterior locations.

Her ten characters are people you have met. Possibly you will relate to one or two of them! (I may have…) Across a wide range of ages and backgrounds these are ordinary people turned up to maximum, stepping occasionally over into caricature. Taylor loves these characters, she shows no favouritism and as she scuttles, turns and twists between each one you quickly forget there is only one person on stage. Her performance is, as always, tight and consistent. She has a mastery of switching characters, and in keeping them clearly delineated without props, masks or costume changes.

My favourite moments were those when characters revealed their true nature to other characters leading to unexpected moments of connection. There are plenty of uproarious and outrageous moments interspersed with thoughtful pokes at the trappings and trials of modern life.

Backwards is clever and hilarious and although not really written for children, the one upper primary school aged child in the audience definitely expressed that he thought the whole thing was a terrific hoot.

 

Venue: Northcote Town Hall (Studio Two), 189 High St, Northcote

Season: Until April 18, Tues – Sat 7pm, Sun 6pm

Tickets: $23/$18/$15

Bookings: http://www.darebinarts.com.au/speakeasy