Dance for the dole!
By Narelle Wood
They say any good comedy is based on truth and anyone who has ever tried to deal with any aspect of Centrelink, or any other government agency for that matter, will find that Centrelink the Musical provides good comedy based on circumstances that are eerily familiar.
Centrelink the Musical, directed by Greg Ulfan and conceived by Rohan Harry, follows a day of queues and queries at the Centrelink office, detailing the frustration of disabled Ed (playwright Adam Willson), long-term unemployed Gary (Dylan Lloyd), expectant mother Janine (Artemis Ioannides), the harrowing blank canvass Thyme (Harlene Hercules) and the long-suffering Centrelink employee Janine (Jacqueline Cook). The humour at times is delightfully inappropriate as it pokes fun at some of the truths of the people and their circumstances that lead them to the protocol-bound welfare office.
Out of all of the character it is Gary, the perpetual loser with all the inside know-how necessary to circumnavigate Centrelink’s protocols, that provides the most hilariously cringe-worthy lines and Lloyd’s delivery of Willson’s script is priceless.
Although there was the occasional flat note during some of the songs, overall the cast was exceptionally strong and Hercules’ portrayal of the recently graduated artist was as brilliant as her poetry was ridiculous. It was nice to see the matriarch of the Centrelink office was able to provide a justification for both her Gestapo-like and condescending approach to those in the unemployment queue, and Cook seamlessly transitions between these aspects of her character’s personality.
While there was a minimalist approach to sets and musical accompaniment, the costuming was trashy and completely appropriate, none more so than the bulging pregnant belly of Ioannides’ character Janine and Gary’s almost obscenely short shorts. The songs by Nathan Leigh Jones were clever and really spoke to the heart of each character’s frustration with life and dealing with the changing and more demanding welfare system.
This show provides some great laughs and although the humour seems to be only at the expense of the less-fortunate characters, the show does point to some of the inadequacies of our welfare system. Both the employed and unemployed alike will find something to delight them in Centrelink the Musical.
Venue: The Mechanics Institute, 270 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
Season: Sun 6th April 5pm, Tue 8th April 8pm, Wed 9th –Sat 12th 9pm
Tickets: full $28 | Conc $15