Tag: comedy

REVIEW: WOMANz

Encourages us to be

By Myron My

Created from a rock that impregnated a star, WOMANz (Tessa Waters), is a sparkly sequined big-haired, self-loving machine, and she is here to teach to us about loving ourselves, each other and our crotch area. In fact, there is much love for the crotch area.

Womanz

Waters has charisma, and builds on this through her goofy facial expressions and interaction with the audience to the point where, without any coaxing, she manages to get everyone standing up and performing a ridiculous but fun dance routine. I can safely say I never expected myself to ever crump, especially in a room full of strangers, but then that’s what WOMANz is about; letting go of insecurities and fear, and doing what feels good and fun.

There was a point where the repetitive nature of the show proved to be a little tiresome. Yes, the silly faces were funny and the physical theatre on display was interesting, but when there is very little differentiation, and at times goes on for too long, it started to wear thin.

The scattered song and dance moments help with maintaining the interest, in particular Waters’ hilarious Viking costumed opera moment, where we discover what it is that sets this woman off. This show is all about feelings and being open to each other, and with one final touch by Waters, as you leave WOMANz, there is no alternative but to feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside.

WOMANz implores everyone to love, explore and own their bodies. In a time where we – especially women – are inundated with how to get the perfect body, how to achieve happiness and how to be successful, WOMANz just wants us to be.

Venue: Melbourne Town Hall, Cnr Swanston & Collins St, Melbourne.

Season: Until 19 April | Tue-Sat 9:45pm, Sun 8:45pm

Tickets: $27 Full | $24 Conc

Bookings: Ticketmaster

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REVIEW: Impromptunes – WHOSE CHORUS LINE IS IT ANYWAY?

Madcap musicals made to order

By Narelle Wood

Whose Chorus Line is it Anyway? is improvised comedy and musical theatre all rolled into one and a show you could certainly see more than once, because every night is a brand-new performance.

Whose Chorus Line Is It Anyway

The premise of the show is simple; the audience give the cast the title of the musical and what happens from there is anyone’s guess, even the cast members. We were treated to a musical entitled Friday Nights, which had jail breaks, glitter use and a campaign for culottes, which are able to free women from the oppression of skirts and men from the constriction of tight pants. The result of these shenanigans was the creation of a genderless society, mnan, who put the ‘com (that is communication) back in community’. In the realisation that a genderless society would struggle to repopulate the earth, the mnan once again become man and woman. But there are no spoilers in this tale, for who knows what new journey tonight, or any of the shows, will take you on.

The extremely talented cast includes the likes of the company’s director Emmet Nichols, Stuart Packham, Emily Taylor and George Gayler, just to name a few. It was fascinating to watch how they were able to pick up and run with whatever their fellow cast members came up with, no matter how insane or bizarre. This was especially evident during the musical numbers where they seldom missed a beat. Nichols’ portrayal of a Scotsman, with an accent so thick it’s unintelligible to anyone but a fellow Scotsman, was a highlight, and epitomised the phrase ‘it’s funny because it’s true’.

Lights and musical accompaniment helped set, or in this case develop, the scene and musician Rainer Pollard provided the cast with every music theatre genre, from ballads to toe-tappers, to work with: there was even a dance break. Musical highlights included “There’s a Jail Break”, “I’m Changing Me”, and the title number from the show, “It’s Friday Night”.

If you’re comfortable with laugh-out-loud, zany storylines, put together by clever performers, who can and do change the story’s trajectory on a whim, then Whose Chorus Line is it Anyway? is a show well worth seeing.

Venue: The Loft, Lithuanian Club, 44 Errol St, North Melbourne
Season: September 20th to October 4th, 6.45pm, Sundays 5.45pm
Tickets: Full $24| Conc $19
Bookings: www.melbournefringe.com.au/fringe-festival/show/impromptunes/

REVIEW: Drew Collet in TALES OF A USED CAR SALESMAN

Come along for the ride

By Narelle Wood

Tales of a Used Car Salesman is an interesting cabaret glimpse into the world of used car sales. But instead of the stereotypical dodgy dealings of the used car salesman, it’s the customers that come under scrutiny. Drew Collet tells his first hand account of his dealings with these customers through stories, songs and a little bit of psychoanalysis.

Tales of a Used Car Salesman

It’s clear from the outset that a used car salesman is privy to all sorts of details about his customer, and does much more for his customers than just sell cars. From stories about stalkers and employees with some interesting fetishes, to the lengths people will go to in order to get a discount, Collet seems to have seen it all and a whole lot more.

The songs are familiar, with numbers such as the aptly selected “Who’s Gonna Drive You Home” and parodies of “It Was a Very Good Year” and “Rocket Man”. Collet’s acting and musical background from VCA means that he can not only belt out a tune, but has the singing range that makes his musical numbers both entertaining and a pleasure to listen to as well. Sophie Weiss provides both musical direction and some fairly fancy accompaniment on the piano.

The show seemed to be over fairly quickly (it was about an hour), and I left wanting a few more stories about Collet’s quirky customers. While it was very entertaining there were a couple of the songs that only seemed to repeat the story being told; they were very enjoyable, but it did leave me curious about how Collet came to select his songs.

Tales of a Used Car Salesman is fun, quirky and thoroughly enjoyable. So if you like some good light-hearted comedy, or perhaps in need of a new used car, this show is worth checking out.

Venue: The Butterfly Club, Carson Place, off Little Collins Street
Season: Until Sunday 24th August, 8pm
Tickets: $28 Full | $25 Conc
Bookings: www.thebutterflyclub.com/show/tales-of-a-used-car-salesman

REVIEW: The Butterfly Club Presents THE LATE NIGHT SEXY SHOW

Charmingly cheeky

By Narelle Wood

It was really hard to convince people to come with me to see a show called The Late Night Sexy Show scheduled at 10.30pm on a Thursday night; and I also admittedly was a little apprehensive about what exactly I’d gotten myself into. But any trepidation disappeared in the first few minutes with the assurance that The Late Night Sexy Show would be exactly that – a late-night and sexy show.

Grant Busé performs a collection of original songs, and a medley of some more well-known numbers that concentrate on the derrière region, to explore not only the idea of sex but also sexual attraction, lust and a number of other topics that would be considered taboo in more conservative company.

Late Night Sexy Show

Given the potentially offensive or awkward nature of the content, Busé puts the audience at ease with some friendly and surprisingly non-confrontational audience participation early on, that paves the way for some ‘interesting’ conversations later in the show. One of the most entertaining aspects of the show was Busé’s interaction with the audience and the way he was able to deal with and integrate the random tendencies of some of the audience members.

While the material is obviously exceptionally well-written (I’m assuming there would be a high cringe factor if it wasn’t), it is complimented by Busé’s musical and dancing talent, and the ease with which he performs. It is really hard to pick a favourite part of the show as all of it was simply great: Busé is exceptionally talented and I’d go see it again.

Part-musical, part-comedy, part-strip show and political satire, this is a highly entertaining performance that demonstrates taboo subjects can be humorous without being distasteful. If you can handle a late night out on a school night and the word ‘sex’ doesn’t make you blush, this is a must-see show.

Venue: The Butterfly Club, Carson Place, Melbourne
Season: 10.30pm Every Thursday in May
Tickets: $23 Full | $20 Conc
Bookings: www.thebutterflyclub.com/show/the-late-night-sexy-show

REVIEW: Bethany Simons in RECEPTION

Witty and winning cabaret

By Myron My

Two-time Green Room Award-nominated writer/performer Bethany Simons is back on stage with her comedy cabaret Reception, in which she recalls some of the more interesting and memorable moments of her job as a receptionist at the Australian National Academy of Music.

Simons’ caricatures of the different customers, co-workers and people she comes across at work are brilliant, with ‘Gillian’ in particular being just hilarious. The brisk flow of plays on words and other puns is very clever, and laughs constantly filled the room in response to Simon’s witticisms.

Reception

There are a number of memorable songs throughout Reception, but the one that received most laughs – and my favourite – was the rap song, “I Can’t Help But Help”. The fabulous lyrics, along with its simple choreography and Simons’ hysterical facial expressions made it a definite crowd pleaser. Show opener “My Name is Bethany”, and “They Ring My Bell” also showcased Simons’ talent as an impressive all-round cabaret performer. My only quibble would be that her voice needed more volume at times during the songs, as there were moments when she was more audible speaking rather than singing.

Accompanying Simons on piano is Peter de Jager, whom she fortuitously met whilst working at the Australian National Academy of Music. A highly established and talented pianist, de Jager’s skills more than shine through with the variety of songs played.

As funny as Reception is, it is also a little frightening how much I was personally able to relate to Simons’ anecdotes and experiences from working in administration for an arts organisation: the constant mishearing of her name resulting in such variations as Destiny, Stephanie and Melody (Byron, Brian and Simon for me), the hazards of the “reply all” button (been there, done that), and the cursed affliction of “type fright”. Her stories are both striking and familiar, and I certainly could empathise.

Reception should definitely sit on your latest list of cabaret shows to see, especially if you want to be completely entertained by interesting stories, clever writing, great songs and lots of laughs – and who wouldn’t?

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 256 Collins St (entry via Carson Place), Melbourne
Season: Until 4 May | Tues, Wed, Sun 8pm | Thurs, Fri, Sat 9pm.
Tickets: $25 Full | $22 Conc
Bookings: http://www.thebutterflyclub.com

REVIEW: Christopher Durang’s LAUGHING WILD

Slick satire performed with aplomb

By Myron My

In Christopher Durang’s satirical comedy Laughing Wild, we meet two socially marginalised people struggling to survive in the modern world. They are known as The Woman and The Man. A chance encounter over tuna forces them to look into themselves and each other and attempt to find what it is they really want.

Laughing Wild

Laughing Wild is mainly set up in three scenes – it begins with a monologue by The Woman, a mentally-ill person obsessed with television. Gradually, her fragility and vulnerability begin to come through amid all the humour and jokes. This is followed by a monologue by The Man, a queer and quaint person who is looking to better himself and remain at peace with his spirit.

The third scene is where things get a little more complicated and surreal and there are some great moments including a number of backwards scenes and a hilarious interview in the style of Sally Jesse Raphael with the Infant of Prague which was quite something to witness.

Rani Pramesti carries a certain distinct charisma with her that I’ve not seen on stage for quite a while. Her embodiment of The Woman is more than impressive and the naturalism with which she delivers her lines – often at ridiculous speeds – is testament to the time and effort she must have put in perfecting this role. Her mannerisms and movement all served to construct a woman who is slightly unhinged and erratic.

Similarly, Daniel Last as The Man does exceptionally well in humanizing a character who is hell-bent on remaining positive. While The Woman was more loud and animated, Last did well in showing the restraint of The Man and exploring many of the same fears and worries as his female counterpart but in a fascinatingly different way.

Despite being set in the 80s, the themes of mental illness, loneliness, sexuality and politics are all still prevalent issues today and Durang’s work has clearly passed the test of time. Laughing Wild is a great character piece by two strong performers who are more than capable of carrying this comedic but demanding production.

Venue: Mechanics Institute, 270 Sydney Rd, Brunswick

Season: Until 1 March 2:00pm, 7:00pm.

Tickets: $20 Full | $15 Conc

Bookings: http://www.trybooking.com/71486

REVIEW: La Mama Theatre Presents THE PLAY’S THE THING

The Bard has a lot to answer for

By Beth Cregan

Take one young, intense actor (Louise O’Dwyer) totally committed to perfecting her craft (she’s earnest in that ‘bring own thermos of tea and sandwiches’ kind of way!) Add an experienced, caffeine-powered matriarch (Maureen Hartley) who’s been around the traps. She’s seen it all but more importantly, she knows it all too! Mix in a tired theatre director, (Peppa Sindar) who would love her job, if it wasn’t for the damn actors.

The Plays the Thing

Cast all three characters in a performance, add a misplaced techie and an absent writer to take the flak and you have the makings of a playful drama set in the theatre world. From hilarious warm-up exercises to well-worn power plays, The Play’s The Thing shines the comic spotlight on what happens when words (and egos) collide. Thankfully, despite the conflict and constant coffee breaks, Shakespeare wins out in the end.

Clever writing and superb characterisation create this dialogue-driven drama. Set at La Mama’s Theatre, the close proximity of actors and audience help create the ‘fly on the wall’ intimacy that works so well for this comedy. Louise O’Dwyer and Maureen Hartley pair beautifully in this play and their strong characters certainly bring the script to life. Defined in opposition, their need to control ‘their patch‘  keeps the tension tight. Peppa Sindar as the Director skillfully balances the energy between them. Mind you, her character could circumvent a fair amount of the drama by stepping up to the plate a little sooner, but then we’d miss out on some classic and memorable scenes like Dwyer’s vocal warm-ups and Hartley’s demonstration of physical theatre.

This talented cast of actors not only earn the audience’s laughter, but they work seamlessly to perform a multi-layered, complex play within a play. Written and directed by Brenda Palmer, you won’t need any inside knowledge of the theatre world to enjoy this performance. You’ll recognise these characters anywhere.

The Play’s The Thing is playing at La Mama Theatre from February 20 – March 2, 2014. Tickets available online at http://lamama.com.au/summer-2014/the-plays-the-thing/