Virtually Funny… sorry, “The Melbourne International Very Serious Short Film Festival” provided plenty of laughs even though the sign at the venue stated that a serious art event lay beyond its doors. You knew you were in for a good time when the house music consisted of kitchy covers of the classic tune “Popcorn”.
First up was a bit of French New Wave by Marcel Lucont with plenty of his trademark arrogance and disdane which was being translated into Aussie for the audince’s benefit. When Marcel’s displeasure extended beyond the screen, you knew we were in for something special.
Next was Bec Hill performing her crowd pleasing flip chart illustrations of the lyrics to Piaf’s Je Ne Regrette Rien. This riotious routine started out normally but soon desended into some third diamension lunancy that added a whole new flavour to the piece.
Natalie Palamides presented an attempt at “philosophical musing” involving a herculean task of housework. This was played wonderfully straight so that when elements of the film invaded the audience it was a joy to behold.
Michelle Brasier and Josh Glanc provided some culture with a performance of Romeo & Juliet: Act 5, Scene 3. Hammy overacting and character breaking had us in stitches while lines and stage directions were changed on the fly with riotous results.
“Cinema Staff” Shari and Garry filled in for some “technical glitches” with a spot of karaoke but were soon interrupted by some unsavory foreigners (played by Viggo Venn and Julia Masli onscreen with in the flesh menace provided by David Tieck). We were treated to some cartoon violence, a strange rap performance and wacky love triangle (or was it a pentangle?).
Virtually Funny had shades of “The Show That Goes Wrong” with the in person team trying to hold things together as film and reality broke down. Our host (played by Janet A McLeod) was the arty farty type trying to maintain a veneer of high brow culture in the face of the chaos. The loveable dogsbody characters played by Tieck and Sharnema Nougar (of Two Little Dickheads fame), and Garry Starr offered plenty of help but fell hilariously short. The physical cast were run off their feet reacting to every breaking of the the fourth wall (or is it screen demolition?). Some of the reaction to cues were a little clunky but they pulled through on charm.
A brilliantly ambitious and inventive merger of film and live action, this show employed plenty of visual trickery to bring the filmic action into our laps. Congrats to the local team and the filmmakers for pulling off a hilarious tour de force.
The last time we saw The Fringe Wives Club they were a cheeky trio of Victoria Falconer, Tessa Waters and Rowena Hutson. Everyone who saw them was blown away, they seemed to be bourne out of the zeitgeist of the feminist movement who had had enough, but also fun, sexy, and very consensual. They won best Cabaret show at Adelaide Fringe and the Spirit of the Fringe Award at Edinburgh Fringe in 2018. This year they have been joined by Laura Frew (of Double Denim – she’s rushing between shows at different venues on her bicycle!) and Sharnema Nougar, as well as a couple of back up musicians and they’ve gone Bluegrass.
The Fringe Wives Club have been around the block or two and know their stuff. They are all very accomplished in the cabaret and comedy world and each are revered in their own right, coming together, they have created a powerhouse of a show. The harmonies are gorgeous, banter is a hoot and they all get their moment to shine.
Glittergrass is a sassy celebration of talented women with an underlying rage. The Grrrls are fierce but then not afraid to have a laugh and sympathise with the audience about how difficult it can be to own your privilege and deal with the changing language and the complex politics. In between the songs, some original, some gorgeous covers, they exchange stories and banter that often, ironically, reveal subtle social behaviors that repress women.
Last year’s show Glittery Clittery felt like a secret, naughty, subversive, raucous, feminist club where it was safe to gather and share our joy and anger with original songs that spoke of the modern woman’s experience in a bold, fresh way and had us in tears of laughter and sadness. Glittergrass is still furious feminist cabaret but feels a little more mainstream. Not that there’s anything wrong with an accessible show. Bring your family they’ll laugh their buts off with you while learning about lady bush rangers and 3rd Wave Intersectional Feminism.
Fringe Wives Club perform Glittergrass at The Coopers Malthouse
It’s not long now until the world’s largest fringe arts festival begins in warmer climes and again a massive contingent of Australians and expats are headed to The Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Many have traveled the Australian festival circuit and have been whipped into shape for international audiences. Some have been previously reviewed by Squirrel but remember they will have been further polished and may have been revised and reworked.
Last year Australian, Hannah Gadsby won Best Comedy at the Fringe, she’s had to cancel her Edinburgh Fringe run this year but there’s a lot more amazing comedy talent coming up from down under. If you are travelling anywhere near Edinburgh this August, have a look at the following list of shows and consider going to see an Australian act.