Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Ugly Duckling - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

Meet Duckie, she wants to be famous and be adored by everyone, but what can she do when is an ugly duckling? In a new cabaret show written by Spanky! and Karla Hillam, Ugly Duckling is 60 minutes of great songs, laughter and some highly entertaining duck-tales about what happens when an ugly duck realises that she is not destined to become a beautiful swan, leading her on an adventure of self-discovery and learning to be happy with who she is.

Also starring in the role of Duckie, Hillam delivers a committed and highly engaging performance. She is clearly having fun with the character as she fills us in on her life and the realisation that things don’t always go the way you want them to be. With an impressive singing voice, the songs and music captivate everyone in the room and add further detail to the stories Duckie is sharing with us. Joining Hillam on stage is musical director and accompanist Andrew Kroenert who plays piano, guitar, makes a cameo as Duckie’s love interest and sings, with his and Hillam's duet being one of the musical highlights of Ugly Duckling.

The story is rich in detail and moves at quite a fast pace which keeps things interesting, however Hillam’s accent seems ill-suited for the show as it makes the audience work that extra bit to follow every word and keep up with the story.

The costuming is well designed with individual touches to the outfits that Hillam wears so that even though she doesn’t really look like a duck, there are many references to being a duck. She dazzles and sparkles with glitter and feathers adorning her body and her make-up - particularly those incredibly long eye lashes - is suitably matched to her duck persona. The webbed-feet heels are also a brilliant touch to the character.

While the tale of self-discovery is something we’ve heard many times – and possibly experienced - Ugly Duckling is a fresh spin on this story. With a strong performance by Hillam, and a script that knows exactly what story it wants to tell, Ugly Duckling is a wonderfully wacky fairy tale for the modern age.

Ugly Duckling was performed at The Butterfly Club between 18  - 24 September 2017. 

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