George Glass : Advertising Death

By Alanta Colley

The George Glass Boys have taken their musical ensemble to the next level by building a black comedy about love, death and revenge around their music.

The Frissal Brothers, who smell faintly like con-men are staring down the barrel of bankruptcy as Frissel Funerals’ loans have run dry. But just as they accept this fate the funeral opportunity of a lifetime comes along. The only challenge is that unfortunately the old man the funeral is for hasn’t quite popped off the perch yet. Plots aplenty ensue.

Scenes are interspersed with a full complement of musical numbers; the actors transforming into the band and then back again. There’s dance numbers, an odd acrobatic stunt or two, and not an insignificant amount of costume changes; involving a large amount of rather ludicrous drag.

Like a number of theatre pieces that have registered for the Melbourne Comedy Festival, this piece probably suffers from the expectation created that this is a laugh a minute comedy. There are jokes, but they were muted in their delivery and created very little punch. While the premise for the story was a fertile one; death, romance, doctors, widows, preachers and dodgy business men all make for chaotic comedy, this play didn’t quite get there. Sadly the acting of several (but not all) the cast was rather tepid; feeling like people delivering lines rather than fully embodying their characters. It seemed that there was an expectation that the drag was supposed to accrue more laughs than it did. It felt like the play was built around the music, which was the strong point of the performance. Sadly the plot also has gaping holes too – it’s really not clear how one of the main characters met his end.

This play needs a lot of work before the comedy, plot and acting can match the quality of the music.

Advertising Death is on at Mechanics Institute until April 19