Tag: The Tuxedo Cat

Boutique Theatre Presents MERRY CHRISTMAS, BITCHES!

Festive family gathering with grim but witty twists

By Joana Simmons

Tis’ the season to be jolly. Or so they say, as for many of us, Christmas can be a time of togetherness, tinsel, traffic, terrible gifts and tension. Boutique Theatre‘s production of Merry Christmas, Bitches! written by Samantha Hill captivatingly reveals all the sides of the silly season, as told by various female members of the McDoonie family on a sweltering Christmas day between the prawn cocktails and rum and cokes.

merry-christmas-bitches

The Tuxedo Cat’s upstairs space was filled with presents of all sizes stacked amongst baubles, stars and reindeers. Breanna (Samantha Hill) held the audience in her hand as she set the scene with her colloquial monologue detailing the family dynamic, tense from Christmases gone by, which wasn’t to be bought up this year because ‘you don’t start shit at Christmas’… but they have discovered a dead body under the shed in the backyard and it’s all a bit weird. The one-liners are comical and the content is well thought-out. The writing throughout this show is extremely clever and maturely takes us down all kinds of deep paths, with great social, political, gender and satirical commentary sparkling through.

We meet Joanna (Ana Mitsikas) the divorcee, somewhat neurotic vegetarian, and outsider. Her individual story is as interesting as the last; it’s not so much about what has happened, but the details about the relationships that get us invested in each character’s story. Caitlin Mathieson’s portrayal of year 12 graduate Greyson was authentic and strong. In her Christmas pud earrings and kitschy green t-shirt, Sylvia (Emma Jo Makay) is the aunty who tries so hard to make everything perfect and doesn’t quite get it and pulls our heart strings as she cries for the 5th time that day – her first Christmas without her Dad. The matriarch, Bev (Jen Watkins) had fantastic and charming – or as Bev would probably say – “grouse” physicality. Truths come to light, some dark, some relatable, some shocking. The audience is captivated. It’s contrasted with eight year old Snow-White dressing scooter-riding Emma-Leigh (Lauren Mass) who is hilarious and dynamic.

There’s many wonderful things that hit home in this show. The structure is strong, with characters I can definitely compare to my family and who were played well. At 90mins with no interval, I did feel it was too long, as the whole time it was only one person speaking at a time. Director Michaela Bedel has done a stellar job keeping the pace through this massive melting-pot of stories, while the show was seamlessly stage-managed by Dylan Morgan. The set of presents by Nick Casey and Alicia Aulsebrook was bought to life by lighting designer Grace Marshall; before the show started I glanced around and couldn’t see a complex lighting rig but what she did with what she had was very effective.

I made it to this show only at the end of the run. I’m incredibly glad I did. It is a show for anyone who has had a not-so-festive family gathering, for anyone who doesn’t quite feel like they fit in the family mould, or feel the need to carry on with all the baubles and bull-shit. I heartily hope it comes around again next year, for Merry Christmas, Bitches! was witty, wise, and well worth watching.

Merry Christmas, Bitches! was performed at The Tuxedo Cat from 7th – 11th December, 2016.

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MICF 2016: George and Pam IN CONVERSATION WITH SIR GEOFFREY RUSH

Move over Godot

By Joana Simmons

This year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival brings a host of big names, the greats of comedy and television. George and Pam are going to host the BIGGEST name – Australia’s favourite actor of the stage and screen- Sir Geoffrey Rush. George & Pam: In Conversation with Sir Geoffrey Rush is a brand new, absurdist character comedy starring siblings Pam (Arts Administrator) and George (Administrator of the Arts.) As the middle-aged Camberwell-born and bred duo prepares to interview their – our – esteemed guest, they shine a laughable and lovable light on theatre, fandom and the arts in all its absurdity.

George and Pam.jpg

Like a gingernut complements a cup of tea; these idiosyncratic individuals complement each other. Their storytelling and transitions to reenactments through song and voice overs is seamless and hilarious. The thing that struck me the most was how natural and believable the characters are for people who are so batty and absurd. I guess it shows there’s these little twists in all of us, and shows us how talented and clever the brains and bodies behind this operation are. Written and performed by Australian comedians Anna O’Bryan (Al & Anna’s Music Rant) and Sam Rankin (Wake Up, Sheeple!) and directed by award-winning Rachel Davis (EDGE!, Best Comedy, Melbourne Fringe 2013; Weekly Award, Adelaide Fringe 2014), it shows us that two/three heads are better than one. (Unless the one head is Sir Geoffrey’s)

It was Monday night, I’ve got a cold from the late nights of comedy and early mornings of writing and I honestly felt like climbing in a cocoon of tissues and hot toddies. It took about 30 seconds to change my mind. There’s not many days left of this festival, if you feel like you have heard every joke about Tinder, Tony Abbot and topics of the year, then you are in for a real treat, as George and Pam: In Conversation with Sir Geoffrey Rush is refreshingly sharp and witty. There’s no forced laughs or fizzles, it’s delightfully different and it’s a “YES” from me.

Venue: The Tuxedo Cat

Dates: Thursday 7th – Sunday 17th April (excluding Wednesday 13th April)

Time: 8:30pm (Sundays 7:30pm)

Tickets: Con $15, Full $20, Group of 4 + $10

Bookings: http://www.trybooking.com/175050

MICF 2016: Simon Godfrey in DESTINY RACER

Turbo-charged comedy is a real winner

By Christine Young

With over 500 shows being staged at the 2016 Melbourne International Comedy Festival, there are bound to be many stinkers, and loads of punters who do exactly that – take a punt – and go home with a lighter pocket and a darker soul.

Destiny Racer.jpg

This reviewer has way too many stinkers under her belt to sugar-coat anything, so let me say – attending Simon Godfrey’s Destiny Racer offers the complete opposite experience.

Godfrey is a dexterous performer who embodies around twenty characters (most of them humans) to tell the story of racing driver Jean Shaffer coming out of exile to race in the prestigious Le Mans 24-hour car race. But the car-racing world has changed and Jean struggles to accept borderline rocket-ship cars and the assurances of ‘Safety Steve’ that the spectators in the stands are adequately protected with large bales of hay.

Set in the 1950s, Destiny Racer plays with a range of cultural stereotypes and storytelling norms which is clever, funny and often downright silly. Godfrey’s ability to switch between characters (which includes accents, voice tone and mannerisms) is captivating. In fact the story itself plays second-fiddle to the diverse range of characters that are conjured up over the 50-minute show. Not to mention the eyebrows. Godfrey’s eyebrows are a force unto themselves.

My initial assumption that this show would not be my cup of tea was clearly wrong and superficial. This not-so-minor personal detail made the show all the more enjoyable. Plus it’s genuinely funny and Godfrey is the talented, multi-skilled performer that you often won’t find at the small venues during the Comedy Festival. Destiny Racer could just as easily prosper in a larger venue. Out of the more intimate comedy shows, it’s definitely worth checking out Simon Godfrey‘s excellent work, safe in the knowledge that you won’t be getting a stinker.

Where: Tuxedo Cat, 293-299 La Trobe St, Melbourne

When: Tues-Sat 7.15pm; Sun 6.15pm

Tickets: $16-$22  www.comedyfestival.com.au or Ticketmaster 1300 660 013

MICF 2016: ABBOTT! The Musical

Budgie smugglers and belly laughs!

By Heather Forbes

Fresh from the Adelaide Fringe comes Abbott the Musical for the 2016 Melbourne International Comedy Festival, a somewhat raw, and at times raucous, ‘retro’ musical parody and political satire. The show is very entertaining, at times hilarious, and otherwise mostly funny with its parody and satire of well-known characters, quotes and events from our recent painful political past.

Abbott! The Musical

The show’s original music and script are the product of the Adelaide–based comedy troupe George Glass which consists of three of the production’s actors: Dan Murnane, Alister McMichael and Nic Conway. Real musical and comedic talent energize the production, with songs such as “F*#k ‘Em” sung by a egomaniacal Joe Hockey (McMichael), and a highly sexually-charged “Won’t You Spill With Me” by Malcolm Turnbull (Murnane) and Julie Bishop (Lisa Harper). Conway as Abbott and Murnane as Turnbull steal the limelight as they take their well-impersonated characters into the realms of the absurd (moreso than the other actors). providing many belly laughs. However, the absence of Abbott’s foil or shadow character, Peta Credlin, is a disappointment, as her part in his downfall would have provided great fodder for these satirists.

The use of a ‘Quote’ light to highlight original quotations adds weight to the sharpness and punchiness of the show’s wit, and the magic of suspense. Unfortunately the show’s content is hindered by the limitations of the staging, the poor mixing of the music versus the lyrics at times, and the slackness of the scene changes. 3 & a half out of 5 stars– but still this reviewer had a good time!

Date: 23th March – 3th April

Venue: The Tuxedo Cat 293-299 La Trobe St, Melbourne.

Times:  Tues – Sat 7:15pm. Sun 6:15pm

Ages suitable:  18+

Price: $10 – $27.50

Bookings : www.tixnofee.com or at the door

REVIEW: Daley King in I’M NOT ALRIGHT

Poetry, puppetry and poignancy in progress

By Myron My

Daley King has been living with depression for over a decade: longer, if you consider the fact his father has also lived with it. In his 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival show debut I’m Not Alright, King takes us on a poetic journey on mental illness via physical theatre, a jazz soundtrack, and puppets.

I'm Not Alright

Apart from using his own experience, King has interviewed a variety of people with mental illness to create this story. King has a great ability to engage us with the poetic flow of his words as they paint a picture of a person who is struggling with his intense sadness and loneliness. The jazz music creates a poignantly contrasting image of laughter and chatter that signifies the mind-set that people with depression can have without King needing to explicitly address it.

King uses a puppet look-a-like of himself as his inner voice, invoking some light humour into the dark territory that is depression and suicidal thoughts. The use of the puppet reminds me of my own childhood experiences, and that as children all we ever want it to be loved and to feel safe. It adds a real vulnerability to King without him having to fall into cliché or stereotype.

While King does well in sharing and performing this intimate story, the narrative itself could still do with some fine-tuning, in particular the build-up to the conclusion. The ending occurs quite abruptly and seems to falter somewhat in retaining the thoughtful momentum King has established. At the end of the show, he explains that I’m Not Alright is still a work in progress and the impact of this finale is probably where he most needs to focus his attention.

I’m Not Alright is a touching but unsentimental exploration of mental illness with a person suffering from depression. Despite its topic, the show ends with hope for a better future, and with further development and a stronger narrative, there is a distinct chance King’s show will have a promising one too.

Venue: The Tuxedo Cat, 293 – 299 La Trobe Street, Melbourne.

Season: Until 4 October | Thurs-Sun 9.45pm

Tickets:$25 Full | $20 Conc

Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival

REVIEW: The Suicide Ensemble Presents THE REALITY EVENT

Whether controversy is enough

By Myron My

Led by Daniel Gough, The Suicide Ensemble presented an evening of ‘fun and death’ for the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival. Their work The Reality Event is divided up in two halves: GAME and SUICIDE. GAME aims to put its audience in the driver seats of theatre creation, whereas in SUICIDE we are forced to confront the idea of ‘safe’ theatre and its boundaries between art and life.

The Reality Event

In GAME, we are divided into five teams with one of The Suicide Ensemble (Pavle Banovic, Esther DoughertyFinley Kube, Remi Roehrs or Sampson Smith) as the team captain. If the team loses a challenge, the team captain is publicly “shamed” and sent away. The “shamings” range from a public “dacking” to eating a tablespoon of wasabi. There is a pack mentality to the proceedings as we are encouraged to laugh and cheer while this is happening and despite its title, there is still a deliberately and grimly dark element to GAME.

The outlined purpose of GAME is to give audiences the opportunity to be in charge of theatre, yet I found myself questioning what exactly this theatre we were supposed to be making was? The team captains were the ones who generally competed in the challenges and in the shamings, except for a few “brave” audience members. While the performance was a somewhat fun experience, I never once felt like I was in control of this experience. The abrupt ending and lack of explanation did not help clarify any of these ideas either.

However, it is in the second half of The Reality Event, SUICIDE, that things take a distinct turn for the worse. The five performers explain they are each going to be killing themselves and we will vote on who commits suicide and what method they will use. They explain that this is not a show to talk about suicide but to blur the lines between what is real and what is theatre. For the next forty minutes therefore, we sit and watch as each person graphically depicts ending their life, through stabbing, suffocation and hanging, to name a few. It is harrowing to watch, with a number of people walking out the evening I attended.

SUICIDE wants to make theatre “unsafe”, but I feel there are much better ways of eliciting and exciting these feelings than by showing extreme and distressful scenes of people committing suicide. There is no entertainment, no enjoyment and nothing to learn in watching these scenes unfold. There is no discernible purpose or art here, just gratuitous shock-value scenes of violence.

The Reality Event attempts to turn theatre around and have the audience – traditionally the watcher – be the creator and instigator. However, to achieve this successfully I feel more care and thought is needed to ensure that this work’s intended messages are conveyed in an effective and responsible manner. The Reality Event seems to be more focused on creating something that people will talk about – rather than creating good theatre that people will talk about.

The Reality Event was performed at The Tuxedo Cat as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival on 24 – 29 September.

Review: NELLIE WHITE’S ONE-HANDED SHOW – An Introduction to Pornography..

Gird your loins and come for the comedy

By Vikki Doig

Sex, vagina, penis, pubes, ball slappage – doesn’t it just feel better to say these things out loud? And that’s exactly what Nellie White’s One-Handed Show: An Introduction to Pornography for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival seeks to do.

Nellie White

I haven’t always enjoyed porn. As a young innocent I felt particularly uncomfortable at the sights and sounds of people’s carnal bliss. However, as I grew older and wiser in my sexual journey, it became comforting to see people try new things (sometimes things that seemed logistically impossible!) but, more importantly, sex became less scary – even funny! So how could I pass up the opportunity to see a fellow pornophile throw social niceties out the window and talk about sex, baby?

Nellie’s One-Handed Show is certainly not for the faint-hearted. There was a clear feeling of trepidation amongst the crowd upon entering the cosy performance space. The first thing I noticed was the distinct lack of people sitting in the front row – as if that’s a surefire way to avoid being called upon in a 24-seat venue. The fear of audience-participation becomes heightened when sexy-talk is involved…

Nellie had an unassuming innocence on stage which immediately endeared her to us and it was refreshing to be slapped in the face with her unexpected explicit punchlines, casual description of threesomes, sexual exploits (or sexploits, if you will) and graphic imagery.

There were times, though, when I felt more like I was listening to a friend talk about what they’d been up to on the weekend than watching a comedy show, and what the show lacked was a cohesive flow, a bit of direction and strong delivery to pull it all together. It was unclear whether it was a show designed to shock us, encourage us to discuss our own sexploits, make us feel uncomfortable, educate us (Nellie really does know a lot about the history of porn!) or all or none of the above.

The concept was bold, confronting and interesting and all the elements of a good show were groped, caressed and touched upon, but it didn’t quite come together on the night.

Venue: The Tuxedo Cat

Dates: April 11-21

Time: 9.45pm (Sunday 8.45pm)

Price: $12-18

Bookings: MICF online