Friday 9 February 2024

Perpetual Stew review (Midsumma Festival)

Perpetual Stew is a sketch comedy of scenes that play out around food, and while some of these take place at the dinner table, there are many that give a very creative interpretation of what a "dinner table" may be, including two ants carrying food on their backs for their Queen and a Do It Yourself fruit salad table spread.

With all the sketches revolving around food, the writers (Milly Walker, Charlie Lawrence and Victoria Barlow) ensure that each of these scenes is unique and that there isn't repetition or monotony in what we see. Various pairings of the four cast members alters dynamics and everyone gets a chance to play different types. Highlights include the aforementioned ants and their pondering of purpose, a roast dinner for a visiting critical mother and an influencer family getting together to discuss some life changing news.

Of course, the nature of sketch means that there will be some misses too, and one of these is a noire-styled narrative of a mouse that we return to two more times that tends to disrupt the momentum of Perpetual Stew. Another between a rock and a river, while interesting in its approach, is too much of an outlier with respect to the rest to the rest of the evening.

While all these scenes have some humour to them, they are also often serious and honest in how drastically relationships can change over the course of a meal. This is when big things happen – expressions of love and declarations of no longer being in love, and realising your life is about to change but not in the way you wanted.

The cast of four (Sam Eade, Courtney Crisfield, Conagh Punch and Victoria Barlow) take to each scene with good commitment and swap into their numerous characters with relative ease. Barlow is particularly impressive and you can sense there is a strong comedic flare from her so it feels like a missed opportunity that she is not provided enough of these occasions.

Food is such an important part of life, but it's not just the eating of food, but the rituals that go with it. It is the chance to share news and make changes in life. We all do it whether we realise it or not. Perpetual Stew brings forth these ideas through its absurdly dramatic and comedic sketches that will leave you eager to revisit what this group of creatives can cook up next.

Click here for our interview with co-writer Charlie Lawrence.


Venue: The Motley Bauhaus, 118 Elgin St, Carlton

Season: until 10 Feb | 6:00pm
Duration: 60 minutes

Tickets: $35 Full | $28 Concession and Preview
Bookings: Midsumma Festival

Image credit: Jax Oliver Studio

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