It's the beauty pageant to end all beauty pageants. All the nerves, stressing, tears, arguments and tantrums from parents has culminated to this moment. Will their child win the crown? In The Pageant, creators and performers Patrick Dwyer and Laura Trenerry (one third of The Travelling Sisters), reveal the glitz and glamour of the high stakes world of pageantry, with a little help from the rest of the room.
Dwyer is in his element as former pageant darling Victoria Beavoir, capturing the insecurities of this bombshell as she exudes a public image of flirtatious and frisky behaviours. Trenerry as Victoria's long-term devotee Roger Seahorse brings in her long-history of male impersonations from her Travelling Sisters performances to present this nervous and geeky man as an absolutely charming and loveable co-host.
There is a lot of audience participation in this show and while many people are generally petrified of being invited to come up on stage for any purpose, Dwyer and Trenerry ensure that their "volunteers" are well looked after. On the night I attended every single person called up was well prepared with what to do and more than enjoyed their time in the spotlight, and it wouldn't be surprising if there were plenty of disappointed faces in the crowd who were not brought up.
In between the judging, we flashback to Victoria and Roger's younger years where they deal with their disapproving mother and father respectively. Even though it adds to the history of the characters and the scenes get consistent laughs, they don't tie in strongly enough with what unfolds. There is also a twist towards the finale that happens completely out of the blue that is slightly jarring. If there was some kind of reference to this prior, to have it sitting in the back of our minds, the pay off might be greater and wouldn't leave us confused as to what's happening. It's great to surprise the audience but it's important to allow them the opportunity to put the pieces together.
This was the premiere of The Pageant and despite a few kinks to iron out, it is still a hugely entertaining evening of hilarity. When the performers are having as much fun as Dwyer and Trenerry are having, it is inevitably going to spill into the audience. For something a bit off-centre and for those who have always wanted to be victorious in a beauty competition - and let's be honest, who hasn't? - you don't want to miss experience.
Venue: Trades Hall, Cnr Lygon & Victoria Sts, Carlton.
Season: until 29 September | Tues - Sat 8:00pm, Sun 7:00pm
Length: 60 minutes
Tickets: $22 Full | $20 Conc and Cheap Tuesday | $18 Group 4+
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival