Super Woman Money Program by Elizabeth Davie

By Lisa ClarkElizabeth Davie

At first glance in the Fringe Guide this show might look like another business seminar spoof but that is only a small part of a stunning, beautifully structured show about the inequalities of wealth between women and men from the general experience, gradually working its way deep down to the very personal.

It is always a joy to discover a new talented comic performer, but Elizabeth Davie is something else, she has definite star power. Smart, brilliant at both physical comedy and stand up, good character work and not a bad puppeteer. She has created a beautifully arrogant spokesperson for the Super Woman Money Program – which is a real actual thing. I received the email with lame saving tips from my Superannuation fund and when I got to the tip ‘Avoid Divorce’, I thought WTF is this crap?? So did Elizabeth obviously and turned it into a smashing Festival show. I found it not only hilarious fun but quite brave of Elizabeth to name her show after the thing she is lampooning.

Elizabeth’s Super Woman Money Program is beautifully formed from four major interwoven strands that have come from her real life experience. There is her spokeswoman representing the programs for women run by Superannuation companies, her personal stand up comedy about the insecure life of a struggling artist with a HUGE education debt (many in the audience could relate to this!), the adorable and simple puppetry that was the voice of her email inbox and finally a story. Another huge inspiration for this show was Jane Gilmore’s The Cost of Womanhood and Elizabeth makes a rather brave decision to stop the momentum of the hilarious show to read the entire story. There are no laughs here, the audience is silenced as it goes on the journey with Elizabeth.

Another brave decision is to open and close the show by singing (badly) along with Shirley Bassey. We finally discover a shortfall in Elizabeth’s broad talent. But somehow, here the lack of singing ability is not a big problem, it works because it is more like primal screaming; opening the show as an ironic cry of help from a poor player on the stage from a high status character (Hey Big Spender) and the closing song (This is My Life) as a howl of defiance and pride from herself on behalf of us all.

Sadly this fantastically joyful feminist comedy show had a very short run at Melbourne Fringe, particularly as so much work has obviously gone into it. This was everything a great Fringe show should be, a brilliant performer with bags of potential, a show that is wildly entertaining and hilariously funny using different forms of performance, with political nuance that lives with the audience long after the show has ended.

Super Woman Money Program was on at Lithuanian Club – Son of Loft

https://www.melbournefringe.com.au/event/super-woman-money-program/

Alderstead Heath

By Colin Flaherty
Alderstead Heath

The festival blurb and a recent video on Facebook indicate that Alex Chilton had quite ambitious plans for Alderstead Heath. Ultimately, he ditched all the technological elements of the show that proved too unfeasible and was left with a low key storytelling show. Just a bloke, sitting on a stool, with a microphone, telling us tales from his life.

Using the family caravan of his childhood as a launching point, he mused on memory, homesickness, identity and relationships. The regular car trips from the back seat, falling in love and making it work long distance, moving to the other side of the world and even a complicated relationship with a cat were analysed with the skill of an anthropologist. He included descriptions of things that occupied his young attention and cleverly applied adult logic to find some humour in them. While occasionally getting a little too bogged down in detail, his painting of vivid pictures with words alone enthralled the audience.

This show was very gentle in how it presented itself. For the most part he gave the performance a slightly whimsical air that had all smiling rather than in fits of hysterical laughter. He did manage to include a number of amusing observations and remarks that tickled the fancy with their relatability but they were a little thin on the ground. His observations about life were fascinating but for a comedy show I would have expected more actual jokes within the stories.

Also disappointing was the abrupt way in which he ended it. He suddenly became aware of the time, excused it as being a work in progress and bid us farewell. There was no wrap up or grand message/revelation to speak of. We were cast into the night from this warm envelope of words. While it lasted, this was a nice and cosy way to start a night at the Fringe Festival.

Alderstead Heath is on at The Courthouse Hotel – The Dock until September 24

https://www.melbournefringe.com.au/event/alderstead-heath/

5 Good Reasons to see FRANKIE&SAL in Making It Rain

1. We have stonefish

2. We pronounce Ibiza correctly

3. We’ll kill you if you don’t

4. Sal says we can’t say we’ll kill you but we can say its a really fun show and you’ll enjoy it if you’re there so everyone should come

5. Sal is the fun police but she does have lollies… so there’s that

Making It Rain is on at Errol’s & Co from September 28 to October 1

https://www.melbournefringe.com.au/event/frankiesal-in-making-it-rain/

The Travelling Sisters – NOO SHO

By Lisa Clark
Travelling Sisters

The Travelling sisters ( Lucy Fox, Laura Trenerry and Ell Sachs) are one of the best new comedy sketch trios I’ve seen in a while. Considering this was the 2nd performance of their new show, Noo Sho was a pretty entertaining hour of sketch comedy.

Noo Sho is not the kind of show trying to make you think or learn, it’s just pure, adorable silliness. The skits themselves don’t really have any connecting theme. They are mostly short and only a song about the High School Formal runs a bit too long. It could do with some backing music to pump it up too. Some skits are plain perplexing and some don’t go anywhere interesting but the performers are always engaging & fun to spend time with. I’m always impressed by comedic performers who are willing to forget their ego on stage to get the laughs. The best sketch was about two ladies in a dressing room after yoga with the universal humour of someone who keeps up a conversation when you just wish they would leave but are too polite to say. It plays out beautifully with a bit of weirdness towards the end that almost spoils it. All the more interesting because it is about getting changed and that is a big part of this show.

The costume changes have to be addressed because the costumes and wigs are elaborate and impressive and most of the changes happen on the lit stage. They have written some lovely music for these interludes and the little bits of audience interaction are delightful (not too overdone) but they sometimes feel longer than some of the skits. They are pretty good at choreography, so a bit more stylisation – even if it was just for 1 or 2 of the changes would add some interest for the audience. If not I’m sure these bits will tighten up as the show goes on.

It is not surprising to learn that they are all Gaulier girls. It shows in their physical prowess and strong stage presence. This helps them get laughs from the flimsiest of pretexts. There are also a lot of great ideas, but some need a bit of work to bring them to a more satisfying level. They asked for feedback at the end and my main advice would be to open with the toadstools & do a bit more with them. Otherwise an enjoyable hour with heaps of potential.

NOO SHO is on at Lithuanian Club – The Loft & Arts House – Underground from September 15 to 23

https://www.melbournefringe.com.au/event/the-travelling-sisters-noo-sho/

The First Annual (Doris to insert) Festival

By Colin Flaherty
first annual

Blinded by the chance to appear on “Australia’s Got Festivals”, the community of Bess County embark on an ambitious town festival in spite of lack of funds, selfish individual motives and an AWOL Mayor. So begins the first stage effort of sketch group Bess County (Elyce Phillips, Simon Hawkings, Brendan Wan, Tino Merino and Fiannah De Rue).

This world was populated by plenty of wacky characters such as De Rue’s eccentric Lady Wellington, Hawkings’ DJ Gary Biscuit and Phillips’ heartbroken Tour Guide Martine. Most of the characters were introduced perfectly on their brilliant facebook page using cartoons, videos and interviews, however their translation to the stage was often a letdown.

The cast were clearly having a great time performing and this enthusiasm was infectious, but the delivery of the script wasn’t always as broad as it should have been which resulted in flat exchanges and lacklustre jokes. When they did manage to play it big they got some great laughs. Bigger wasn’t always better as demonstrated by Merino’s pre-recorded Mayoral Skype conversations that were rambling, very messy and added little to the story.  These were entertaining characters to spend time with but unfortunately the laughs weren’t consistant.

There were some great ideas in this play (their take on a beauty pageant was especially inspired) but were often not pushed far enough. The audience raffle was a cute idea to enhance the country town feel of the piece but the lack of sizzle and not actually showing the lame prizes within gave us an odd scene that went nowhere except for one audience member getting a showbag.

The logic of this world was a little confusing at times. The townsfolk’s interactions with the Mayor and TV types saw them as ineffective country bumpkins but within the town community, each had their own sophisticated agenda which suggested more. The stakes of holding a successful festival beyond the TV angle weren’t clearly shown and most of the slight comical conflicts were exchanges between people who were off in their own little worlds, so it felt as if not much actually happened in some scenes.

One of my pet peeves is long periods of dark stage between scenes and unfortunately this show had this in droves. A bit of background music and a couple of videos helped pass the time but it was still annoying.

This was a valiant first effort at Fringe that that was fun but didn’t quite nail it.

The First Annual (Doris to insert) Festival is on at Club Voltaire from September 15 to 23

https://www.melbournefringe.com.au/event/the-first-annual-doris-to-insert-festival/

Dr Chris’s Theory of Everything

By Conor Merrigan-Turner
Dr Chris Lassig

Picture your high school science teacher or university professor. Think about their dry sense of humor, human disconnection and how alienated you felt when they went on one of their complicated science tangents, well don’t worry. Dr Chris’s Theory of Everything was almost opposite; the only archetypal things about him were his homage to the Doctor Who attire and his youthful passion for scientific knowledge.

Dr Chris is the voice of science on 3CR 885AM. He presents latest research and interviews guests about how science impacts our day to day lives. His Festival show begins with his journey towards being a Doctor of Physics, from his childhood dreams to his career aspirations. Although Melbourne Fringe Festival isn’t exactly MIT, he is an advocate for the scientific world, spreading the words of the scientific minds that have come before him, that, in truth have set us towards inevitable doom and communicated this to audiences who presumably had no knowledge of this prior. I say presumably because once Dr Chris had informed us about the crucial role quantitative physicists had in the majority of global recessions, it was met with a gasps. Do not be put off by this, the show is so well structured and balanced it does not feel heavy handed or overly incomprehensible.

Chris’s sensitivity to the complexity of the universe that he discusses was very entertaining. Dr Chris and his trusty whiteboard captivated even the younger audiences with relevant pop cultural cues, and mixed theoretical discussion, with a side of Kate Winslet references.

Science was put on display in an honest cynical light which is hard to ignore, but also with a whole lot of humanity. Making us laugh with universal self-pity and joy that we are ALL blind in this mouse trap (some less than others). It was truly comforting knowing even an esteemed Physicist had a lot to learn as well. Seeing a physicist having an audience cackling with laughter when talking about such dense and serious topics is impressive. It seemed certain that not only did you walk out with a sense of fulfillment from seeing a comedy show which delivered comedy, but also one that made you feel a little wiser. There is a saying “As your area of knowledge grows, so too does your perimeter of ignorance” and we certainly walked out questioning a lot more. I would like to think this is the direction comedy is going, stepping onward into intellectual discussions as well as lighthearted humour.
This performance was substance rich and equally comically satisfying. If you are looking for a night out with colleagues, family or friends join the discussion with Dr Lassig.

Dr Chris’s Theory of Everything is on at Arts House – Parlour Room until September 22

https://www.melbournefringe.com.au/event/dr-chriss-theory-of-everything/