Screw Loose

By Colin Flaherty

This is an amusing romp in which serial stalker Emily details all the “boyfriends” she’s had over the years through song and monologue. We hear tales of schoolyard crushes and numerous “cheating partners”, and we hear of her methods of “gentle” persuasion and dealing with letting go.

Emily has created a brilliant comedic character who is wonderfully unhinged and delusional. Through exaggerated twitchy gestures and the odd crazy outburst we observe her twisted thought processes. She is the perfect unreliable narrator for these tales of clearly deplorable behaviour that deftly sways the audience towards empathy.

Screw Loose has an engaging storyline that gradually increases, then ramps up, the insanity perfectly. Rather than just being a collection of songs on the topic of unrequited love, the between song patter links the tunes with hilarious exposition. Some gentle audience participation involving a lucky gent provides a couple of amusing lines but the song / story could easily be performed without a Y chromosome being on stage. I guess the victim needs to really squirm (rather than take it like a man) for this segment to pay off.

Her songs are largely original numbers combining hilariously twisted tunes and heart breaking ballads. There are enough amusing ideas to keep you chuckling throughout with wicked and just plain disturbing lines peppered throughout to elicit guffaws, the highlight being the title song Screw Loose which really takes it over the edge and has the audience whooping. A few straight covers are used to provide exposition and provide some tender moments. All this is sung to accompaniment by Ben Murray who plays piano without too much flourish and leaves all the spotlight for Emily.

Songs are given lots of colour with more than a few nods to Streisand, alternating between belting them out with gusto and chatting / babbling away. It’s a little all over the shop at times but it’s the perfect way to portray this wacky, troubled soul. Even when the tunes aren’t overly comedic in content she delivers them in character, giving them plenty of gestures and vocal variations to amuse.

A toe tapping tour de force for those who’ve ever experience unrequited love, Screw Loose is a fun cabaret performance by a performer with plenty of comedic chops who keeps you laughing throughout.

Screw Loose is on at The Butterfly Club until September 19.