They’re all mad, there…
By Myron My
To enter A F*#cking Mad Tea Party at Melbourne Fringe Festival, one must first take a test. Only when the task is complete to the guard’s satisfaction is permission granted to head on upstairs and join the party. Upon having passed, I am greeted by a number of characters including a French0speaking woman and a man in a wooden chest, seemingly stuck there.
We are free to roam the space – which is amazing – and interact with the other “guests” at the party. The Wonderland transformation affects the whole performance space (even areas that are not specifically used), inevitably adding to the authenticity of the evening. It may have taken two days to set everything up but it clearly took a lot longer to get everything together and prepared.
The performers – Cassandra Belfrange, Jack Bennett, Rachelle Harvey, Ryan Lovat, Timothy Christopher Ryan and Samantha Wojcik – are brilliant and each one of them embraces and embodies their character with much gusto and love. They are all so dedicated and committed that it is impossible to pick a favourite or standout.
The music throughout the show has a variety of songs ranging from Marilyn Monroe to Laura Marling and some dreamy musical scores to name a few. Each one adds a unique element to the show depending on the individual act we are seeing. However it is through most of these acts that I feel A F*#cking Mad Tea Party suffers. Interspersed throughout the story are dance routines, circus acts and even a touch of burlesque but these performances needed tightening. There was much potential in each of them, but they all seemed to finish before they peaked. Perhaps in a more traditional performance these pieces would have satisfied, but this is Wonderland and I was hoping for something more adventurous and daring.
That said, immersive theatre seems to be popping up more and more in Melbourne (there are quite a few such shows during the Fringe Festival), but there’s something special about A F*#cking Mad Tea Party that requires viewing. It’s silly and strange and captivating and innocent and dangerous and I suspect you will not be able to find anything even remotely similar to experiencing a unique evening like this.
Venue: Norm. 34 Breese St, Brunswick
Season: 24-28 September | 8:00pm
Tickets: $27 Full | $22 Conc