When The Little Mermaid's Sebastian sang 'darling it's better, down where it's wetter', he probably didn't take into consideration the plight of Octoqueen Clara Cupcakes. Performed as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Elly Squire's The Worst places Clara Cupcakes (as an octopus) in an 8-bit computer game with a mission to win back all three hearts of her Octoking and reclaim her throne of Seaburbia after being banished from the kingdom.
The character of Clara has always been whimsical and joyful but in this outing Squire has focused on a personal narrative, and as such has created an opportunity for a stronger emotional connection between Clara and the audience.
Watching as the facade slowly begins to crack with
desperation, heartbreak and anger all beginning to rear their ugly heads, you
have to fight the urge to reach out and give her the biggest hug possible. This is perfectly encapsulated in a hilarious song where we witness Clara's protestations of being way too busy to be thinking about the Octoking.
While The Worst starts off as a quest for Clara, it eventually becomes a journey of self-discovery and strength, with a powerful and uplifting message to be shared. While inspired by Squire's own experience of heartbreak and relationships, the scenarios and choices made are something that anyone who has ever been hurt by love can empathise with, regardless if you're a land or sea dwelling creature.
Squire know her 90s games and uses their tropes well to progress her story: a found scroll provides clues on how to reach the next level, the need for a key to unlock certain doors and of course, Clara has a "guardian prawn" called Prawn by her side to provide her with advice and guidance. The graphics and sounds used are rich in detail and anyone who grew up in the 90s will absolutely appreciate the effort that has been made.
Clara Cupcakes might not be able to throw a great party but Squire's The Worst is the one of the best offerings at the festival this year, and has also been nominated for the Golden Gibbo Award. Full of heart, laughs and clever puns, you can't go wrong with this show that cleverly places a very human story in a highly surreal world.
Click here to read my interview with Clara Cupcakes.
Venue: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne
Season: Until 23 April | Mon - Sun 8.30pm
Length: 60 minutes
Tickets: $32 Full | $25 Conc
Bookings: MICF website