The Astruds: Rent (is Due)

By Lisa Clarkastruds

The Astruds are a musical duo with a show full of great songs, beautiful singing and lots of laughs. Sarah Wall & Freya Long could easily have chosen to be a straight music duo but they have chosen the more interesting comedy song path and they have chosen well.

Opening with Sarah strumming her guitar wearing headphones sitting on the floor in a living room, there is a sense that the Astruds are letting us into their  twenty-something world of life after an arts degree, in a share house on the dole. For anyone who’s older and been there, there is a great deal of enjoyment to be had from the nostalgia, little has changed. Many performers pick a theme and try to shoehorn their non-theme material into it, but The Astruds stay on theme throughout, illustrating their world with songs like “Give me a Job”, “I’m wearing Grandma’s rags”, “The Centrelink Blues”, “When Will I be a Celebrity?” and “Where does the money go” and the lyrics are clever and funny.

The Astruds main inspiration clearly comes from Garfunkle & Oates and Flight of The Conchords in song style, gentle melodic harmonies and also a grunge aesthetic, but then this grungey style may have been specifically implemented to fit in with the show’s theme. The grand finale shows they can do sazzy showbiz and they sprinkle some minor cute costume additions throughout. These are taken on by Sarah and include grandma’s robe for “..Grandma’s Rags”, a Tutti Fruity hat for the charming Brazillian inspired “Fruit Song” and finally a decoupaged sparkly hat with a tribute to Queen B (which I couldn’t see clearly up the back) whom I assumed was Beyonce, but the song “Chocolate” was clearly based on the tune to “Toxic” by another “B” Britney Spears. It had the audience laughing a lot which is the main thing.

Sarah and Freya are very good comedy song writers who only need to put more work into their appealing on stage personas and in-between song banter to have a top comedy festival show on their hands. They need to fearlessly commit to the anger and frustration of sharehouse conflict and dealing with passive aggressive housemates, this helps give the show more dramatic interest and colour. The comedy writing in the songs is so good that comedy banter between the songs should be a piece of cake! My other advice would be for the duo to tell us their names at the top and let us get to know them (or at least the stage version of them) a bit more.

Australia has produced some of the best musical comedy in the world and I’ve been waiting for the new wave of musical comedy talent for a while. Earlier this year I was astonished by the musical comedy talent of Jude Perl and now I’m impressed by The Astruds. Sarah Wall & Freya Long are excellent musicians with gorgeous harmonising voices and funny songs to sing. Things are looking good for musical comedy.

The Astruds perform Rent (is Due) at The Butterfly Club til Sept 18