Wednesday 4 October 2023

Riley Nottingham Needs Your Help review (Melbourne Fringe Festival)

Riley Nottingham is sick and tired of making choices. So he's not making them anymore. In Riley Nottingham Needs Your Help, Nottingham enlists his audience to guide him through life like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel while he sings about his anxieties and worries as he plays the piano.

Our first decision is determining what outfit Nottingham will wear by raising our flash cards with an angel or devil emoji. Will it be the bad boy black outfit or the sweetly innocent light blue outfit? From there, we follow Nottingham through a variety of situations where we compel him to go with either option A or option B. The concept is interesting but there is a lack of adventure and risk in the scenarios we are introduced to and there's low stakes throughout the entire show.

It is difficult to be invested in Nottingham's "adventure" when the choices we must make are as basic as whether he uses the economy or business class toilets. How is this going to impact his life? Yes, this is supposed to be a lighthearted show but it's possible to tackle something of weight and still find the humour within it. What we end up with are random scenes that don't explain why life is so complicated for Nottingham that he has decided to shut down, which results in a climatic realisation at the end that does not feel earned.
Where Riley Nottingham Needs Your Help hits the right notes is with the music and songs. As with his previous shows, Nottingham shows skill and flair with his song writing, but more work needs to be done on his story writing to bring this all together. 
Riley Nottingham Needs Your Help wants to stay light and silly and fluffy and while there's nothing wrong with that, when you feel like you have been forced to shut yourself off and refuse to not make a decision because you are so overwhelmed by the world outside then you need to give your audience something of consequence to face alongside you. If only the audience could have chosen that.

Show Details

Venue: Jimmy Watson's, 333 Lygon St, Carlton

Season: until 21 October | Tues - Sat 7:15pm
Duration: 50 minutes

Tickets: $22 Full | $20 Concession | Hump Day Discount (Wednesday) $16.50
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival

Image credit: Dylan Harris

1 comment:

  1. Riley presents an appealing, charming Avatar. The AI concept show is imaginative and every minute is packed with wit, intelligent insights and accessible humour. This is not a Dostoevsky storyline, as the above review rightly points out, but it's strongly crafted, maximises Riley's voice and keyboard talent and aims for popular and down-to-earth (at times in the toilet humour - we all do it!)