Thursday 28 February 2019

The Hilarious Duff Film Parody Festival - Melbourne International Comedy Festival preview

Hilary Duff may now be starring in the highly popular TV comedy Younger, but the American actress, singer, songwriter and author has had her fair share of movies and TV appearance that are probably best left forgotten. However, as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Nicola Macri is bringing awareness to three of these films with The Hilarious Duff Film Parody Festival. Throughout the two week run of her "festival", Macri will be performing Not The Lizzie McGuire Movie, An Cinderella Story and Cadet Who?, all through a queer and feminist lens.

The question of why Duff was singled out for this festival - and why these films - is a no-brainer for Macri. "There’s something about Hilary Duff that has burrowed into the souls and psyches of my generation. The idea for the show sprung up spontaneously when I saw a GIF that reminded me of Cadet Kelly and thought “I want to do a show that is just re-enacting a bunch of Hilary Duff movies.” It just felt right in my heart. Give the people (a niche but passionate group of millennial women) what they (you) want."

Tuesday 26 February 2019

Vanity Fair Enough - Melbourne International Comedy Festival preview

In the 2018 Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Margot Tanjutco wowed audiences with her performance as Juliet in the critically acclaimed Romeo is Not the Only Fruit. This year, she returns to the festival with her solo show, Vanity Fair Enough. Tanjutco will be bringing an hour of laughs with music, sketch and stand-up as she explores capitalism, materialism and happiness. 

"I see Vanity Fair Enough as the apocalyptic Instagram feed of a self-loving twentynothing. It's a bunch of wild ideas woven together by mass consumption and impending doom," she tells me. "I initially wanted to write a show that almost defends materialism and the title popped into my head very quickly after that. It digs into my own materialistic tendencies and how society encourages those values and the consequences of them. I’m trying to understand how the world works in order to offer my own slices of truth. Those slices can be quite absurd but always grounded in something real."

Thursday 21 February 2019

At The Movies - Melbourne International Comedy Festival preview

With all the chatter about the upcoming Academy Awards, let's spare a thought for the films that could only ever dream of even being considered. During the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Impro Melbourne are doing just that with At The Movies. The group of highly skilled improvisers are bringing out their own Hollywood magic with audience members determining which B-grade movie they would like to see acted out. The catch is, the improvisers have never heard of the film and will only get to watch the first five minutes of it before taking over.

Director of At The Movies and ensemble member of Impro Melbourne Sarah Kinsella has previously performed this with Montreal Improv (who co-developed it with Vancouver’s Little Mountain Improv) and she is thrilled to be presenting it to Melbourne audiences. "I played this format at the Montreal Improv Festival and I had such a great time. It has a structure that is easy for the Improviser to jump into playing and for the audience to understand," she says. "Explaining how improv works is often difficult, particularly if it's a complicated format but this one is incredibly simple and hilarious."

Tuesday 19 February 2019

The Aspie Hour - Melbourne International Comedy Festival preview

At last year's Melbourne International Comedy Festival, a joyous little cabaret was performed at The Butterfly Club. Initially with little fanfare, word of mouth soon spread making it one of the most sought after tickets at the festival. The show was The Aspie Hour and it returns for an encore season at this year's Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Written and performed by Ryan Smedley and Sophie Smyth, they share two 30 minute stories on their experiences of living with Asperger's Syndrome through their mutual love of musical theatre. The two met while studying a Bachelor of Arts (Music Theatre) at the University of Ballarat. While they were a year apart, in their respective final years they each had to create a ten-minute cabaret that ended up being very similar. "Both were about music theatre and about our experiences with Asperger’s. They were focussed so specifically on the same issues that it just made sense when our director, Fiona Scott-Norman, suggested expanding and combining the two," they tell me.

From there The Aspie Hour was born, resulting in an extended sell out season at the comedy festival and most recently picking up two Green Room Award nominations for Best Writing and Best Ensemble for cabaret. "We certainly felt very lucky to receive so much interest, particularly as the season progressed. Sometimes when creating a show, it can take until the end of its development before the most potent themes emerge. I eventually realised the show is summed up in a lyric at the end of one of our duets: "Everyone is different, yet the same," Smedley says.

Saturday 9 February 2019

Q review

The greatest mystery in life is death. Not only what happens after we die but also the not knowing when death might come. I could choke on the food I am eating as I write this review. Death comes for everyone but it is always unexpected. In Aleksandr Corke's Q, we meet a young man called K who has died and must now wait and see what comes next.

The first act opens with two workers (played with subtle comedy flair by Reilly Holt and Ashleigh Gray) preparing for something - or someone - as they attempt to open a locked folder. Eventually K (Wil King) arrives. He has died and the locked file is the file of his life. An inspector (Alanah Allen) is called in to determine why the file will not open and discovers that K has been taken too early from Earth and he must decide if he'll go through the arduous task of returning back to his life or simply sign a waiver and allow himself to die, which will unlock his folder.

Monday 4 February 2019

Become The One - Midsumma Festival review

The writer's notes in the program for Become The One tell us that in 2018, there were over 790 players on club lists in the AFL. Of those 790 there were no players who identified as anything other than heterosexual. While this is possible, it is highly unlikely, and in Adam Fawcett's new play, a high profile AFL player struggles to keep his relationship with a man out of the news for fear of ruining his career.

Chris Asimos (Tom) and Henry Strand (Noah) share great chemistry on stage, with both of them comfortable in their characters and in their more intimate scenes together. As time moves forward in the play, so too does the familiarity and affection the two have for each other develop. Fawcett's sharp and witty dialogue between them shows two people who are in love and devoted to one another but ultimately trapped by their circusmstances. Homosexuality, masculinity and sports are openly explored and rather than giving simple solutions to these issues, the script veers towards a more realistic and complex resolution.

Sunday 3 February 2019

Orpheus - Midsumma Festival review

After a stellar year of concerts in 2018, Forest Collective kicks off 2019 with possibly one of its most ambitious projects to date. Presented as part of the Midsumma Festival, Orpheus is a new ballet-opera based on the myth of Orpheus, Eurydice and Calaïs. Accompanied by a ten-person orchestra led by Composer and Musical Director Evan Lawson, an opera singer and a dancer pair up to share the three roles, conveying their thoughts and feelings through their individual art form.

Once again, Lawson has put together an exemplary group of musicians with a variety of instruments to create a powerful composition that guides the audience through Orpheus' relationships with Eurydice and Calaïs. Lawson also highlights the queerness of this story with his inclusion of lesser-known parts of the myth as he explores Orpheus' love for Calaïs. Told in four parts, the composition clearly distinguishes the episodic sections and with whose perspective we are witnessing the story unfold.

Friday 1 February 2019

The Maids - Midsumma Festival review

It was the brutal murders committed by sisters Christine and Léa Papin of their employer and her daughter in France in 1933 that inspired Jean Genet to write The Maids. In his play, two maids, Solange and Claire, fantasise about and role play murdering their Madame when she is away. Performed as part of the Midsumma Festival, Samuel Russo and Adam Ibrahim present a bold queer reimagining of the play that is still just as revealing about class divide and the way “Others” are perceived by society.

Russo and Ibrahim are in their element with this style of theatre, camping it up with some dazzling costumes, wigs and accessories while firmly establishing the relationship between the sisters and those around them. However, as we edge closer to Madame’s arrival, the show loses some if its momentum as the two actors begin to mirror each other’s energy and character and it feels like they're running out of steam. 

Once Artemis Ioannides appears as Madame, there is new life breathed into the production and it keeps riding this wave right up until the end. While Ioannides is only on stage for a short time, she demands the audience’s attention and you wish she’d come back for more. This isn’t her story though, and Ioannides serves her purpose marvellously, making evident the privileged life Madame leads and why her maids have so much hate for her.