Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Woman of the Hour - Melbourne International Comedy Festival review

In 2015, Sophie Joske performed her first solo show called Become a Functional Adult in 45 Minutes, a cautionary tale on society programming people to be what it wants them to be. In the 2019 Melbourne International Comedy Festival, she stars in her second solo show, Woman of the Hour, and while they are completely different shows, you can't help but wonder if the main character from her current outing, Cassandra Barbitoll, is the tragic outcome of the societal indoctrination highlighted in her first.

Cassandra Barbitoll is a Hollywood star. She has been one ever since she was a child. The media loved the youngster with a heart-melting smile but then she got older. She recalls moments of her life with her adoring public; from the life-changing pram stroll her mother took her on to the various auditions she attended over her illustrious career. There is nothing Cassandra won't share with her fans, but it's what she won't share that speaks volumes.

Joske is in fine form as Cassandra, and the other 30-odd characters she plays. It is a nuanced performance in character work that while exaggerated and heavily infused in comedy, still conveys the sadness and the possible regret that this woman has felt from constantly putting on a show for everyone. She may not be explicit in stating this, but there are many indicators that this woman has been treated terribly by those around her. 

There are some great directorial choices from Anna Lehmann Thomson particularly when it comes to distinguishing between characters in quick succession, which is pivotal to the show's success as Joske has decided to do without props or design. All eyes are on her and there is nowhere our attention can go - and to be honest, it's probably how Cassandra would prefer it. Joske's flair for the absurd is hilariously captured as she depicts a number of Cassandra's facial hairs that fall victims to hot wax.

Woman of the Hour is a brilliant reminder of the talent and star appeal that Joske has. Unlike Cassandra, Joske has the smarts to understand the society that she lives in and the ability to call it out on its behaviour in the most comedic way. Hopefully we won't have to wait another four years before her next solo show because Joske is someone who should be taking centre stage a lot more often.

SHOW DETAILS 

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne
Season: Until 11 April, 7pm
Length: 60 minutes 
Tickets: $34 Full | $30 Conc | $27 Tightarse Tuesday
Bookings: MICF website

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