Thursday 19 September 2019

Batmania, Expo’19 - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

Nothing gets a community more excited than an expo. Well at least that’s the case for Batmania when its finest and brightest come together to promote the simple life this lucky country has to offer. Everyone is welcome, just make sure you’re a fair dinkum, dinky di, true blue Aussie. Presented by The Very Good Looking Initiative, Batmania, Expo ‘19 is half of its Batmania productions at the Melbourne Fringe Festival, with the other being its sold-out Batmania,The Bus Tour.

There are some entertaining sketches taking place in Expo, ‘19, however it fails to live up to its promise of being an immersive experience. Apart from the first five minutes we are an entirely passive audience with no opportunity to interact with the world or its residents. We witness a number of speeches and performances that go on for far longer than they should, but we are always on the sidelines and never involved.

Both shows end at Expo, '19, which means that those who attend both will see the finale twice. Coming from the bus tour, it actually works really well but seeing it occur within the expo environment, those scenes have no context and make little sense. Similarly, had I not taken the bus tour first, then the comment made about Batmanian sand and water at expo that brings everything together would have been completely lost on me.

These two shows have been a highly ambitious project from The Very Good Looking Initiative. While The Bus Tour had a few problems, it still managed to say something about the Australian way of life and its controversial past and present, as it took its audience on an extremely wild ride. Expo ‘19 on the other hand appears to know what it wants to do but it doesn’t seem sure about how to do it, resulting in a series of meaningless sketches.

There are likeable aspects to Expo ‘19, including a brilliant AFL sketch with golden boy Jason and a dark and twisted Neighbours recreation. There are also some great performances from the cast who are doing their best to sell this town, but a drive by visit on a bus is probably all that this self-proclaimed suburban paradise warrants. The Very Good Looking Initiative have been going from strength to strength since their first show CULL so hopefully Expo, '19 will only be a blip in an otherwise incredibly strong track record. 

Click here for my interview with The Very Good Looking Initiative's Elliott Gee.


Theatre Works, 14 Acland St, St Kilda
Season: until 21 September | Tue - Sat 8:30pm Sun 7:30pm
Length: 60 minutes

Tickets: $30 Full | $25 Conc | $23 Cheap Tuesday and Group 6+ 

Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival

Image Credit: Seb Godfrey 

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