Friday 29 March 2019

Fran Solo - Melbourne International Comedy Festival review

You may think you know the story of Star Wars but Fran Middleton is here to tell you otherwise. With her trademark blend of absurdism and improvisation skills, Middleton is here to present her version of this intergalactic story in Fran Solo as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. 

Middleton is busy watching a film on her laptop and drinking a can of Solo – this show is full of puns - as we take our seats. Her laid back nature sets the tone for what we are to experience, and this is strengthened as she casually acknowledges each audience member with a nod and a greeting.
Absurdist humour would have to be one of the most difficult forms of comedy to get right, and there are moments where Middleton finds the perfect balance of funny haha and funny weird in her version of Star Wars. Her introductions of Princess Leia and Chewbacca are simple but genius. Her interpretation of Han Solo being frozen in carbonite and the ensuing musical number showcases the unique sense of humour that Middleton possesses, but there simply isn’t enough juice in this Millennium Falcon to keep it soaring.

While she retains the cheeky and farcical elements of her 2018 Melbourne International Comedy Festival show Franny Pack, where Fran Solo doesn’t hit the mark is in Middleton’s control of what is happening. While Franny Pack might have been improvised, Middleton knew – or came across as knowing – what was going to come next. With Fran Solo, there is uncertainty in what she is doing, to the point that the last ten minutes of the show involved her repeatedly asking her techie how much longer she had left in her 50-minute show as she had run out of ideas.

If a show is improvised, it is fair to cut the performers some slack when jokes don’t land as well as expected. With Fran Solo, the improvisation doesn’t succeed because there is not enough knowledge and preparation in the story and comedy that Middleton wishes to explore. Fran Solo is an entertaining off-beat show but with more work on its structure, the force can be stronger with this one. 


Venue: Globe Alley, Globe Aly (Off Lt Bourke St), Melbourne 
Season: Until 4 April, 9:45pm
Length: 50 minutes 
Tickets: $20 Full | $17 Conc | $15 Tightarse Tuesday
Bookings: MICF website

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