I will admit, I’ve only ever been to Chadstone once. I’m not one for department stores, so I’m not sure how I would cope being trapped inside The Fashion Capital, but that's what a group of shoppers encounter in the sketch comedy Chaddyslap! Performed as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival, the show takes shopping culture and flips it on its head, exposing the hidden underbelly of consumerism and how we are pawns in a much bigger game.
Unfortunately much of the humour here doesn’t land. Punchlines don’t pack enough punch, characters aren’t as exaggerated and animated as they should be in this style of comedy, and sketches either end abruptly or drag on for too long. The conversation between the Supre, Dangerfield, EB Games, Rebel Sport and Bakers Delight stores could have been a wonderful scene full of narrative and clever humour but instead is relegated to obvious gags.
There are moments that are genuinely funny though, including the scene with Ginuwine’s “Pony” and the new-age cult of Starbucks. The highlights of the show is watching the cast perform NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye” as “Buy Buy Buy”, although why the cast are lip syncing to their own recording of the cover is really quite bizarre.
Writer Harley Hefford has a point to drive home about this obsession we have to own more more more, and while it’s a reasonable commentary to make, it is too on the nose at times. In one sketch, a character goes on a diatribe about our consumerism and a quote from Naomi Klein – the inspiration for this work – is splashed on the screen. There’s a way to make the political funny and have a provoking message in your comedy but hammering it at your audience is not the best way to do it.
The cast of eight present mixed abilities in finding the balance between being over the top but still being believable. Monique Marani’s flirtatious mother lights up the stage in every scene and even her brief stint as a backpacker at Chadstone shows her great comedic timing. There is also not a single person in the room who does not want to give Josiah Lulham a hug after his character loses the Chadstone talent competition and his facial expressions and mannerisms in Chaddyslap! are constantly entertaining to watch.
Some may argue that money can’t buy you happiness, it's debatable. But can Chaddyslap! buy you an hour of happiness? Probably not. While the final product doesn’t warrant a demand for a full refund, you still may want to speak to the manager about the service you’ve received.
Venue: Trades Hall, Cnr Lygon & Victoria Sts, Carlton.
Season: until 29 September | Tues - Sat 10:00pm, Sun 9:00pm
Length: 60 minutes
Tickets: $27.50 Full | $22.50 Conc
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival