Friday 19 April 2024

Putting On A Show review (Melbourne International Comedy Festival)

How do you describe Alex Hines' new show Putting On A Show? It's about the trauma of being locked in a McDonalds freezer as a child, but it's also not. It's about being a millennial with ADHD, but it's also not. It's about the ethical and moral issues about fast fashion and online stores like Shein, but it's also not. It's everything you'd expect from Alex Hines, but guess what... it's also not. Perhaps the best way to describe it, is part stand-up, part sketch, part confessional but fully twisted and totally fucked up. And it's absolutely brilliant.

Hines has always had a magnetic presence, particularly as alter ego Juniper Wilde, but here, she pulls us further into her world. As Juniper she can lean into the bat-shit crazy and looseness and run with it, but in Putting On A Show, Hines is herself, and while she is still outlandish and over-the-top, there is a vulnerability present that's not been seen before. References to her ADHD diagnosis, childhood experiences and her family, while not exactly of a personal nature, strike a chord with the room and strengthens the connection between her and her audience.

Director Sarah Stafford has been a long-time collaborator with Hines and its clear the two of them have a strong and complementary relationship. Stafford allows for Hines to not just consistently toe the line of going off the rails, but sometimes jumping in front of the line for a moment and immediately reeling it back in. The venue is a large space for a single performer (and I don't think I've seen Hines in a venue this size before) but Stafford's direction gives Hines license to own the space and make it her own.

As with any Hines show, dance breaks and musical performances abound, with a number of completely unexpected yet strangely fitting song choices. There's also visits from Alex's of the future warning her how certain actions in her show will be cataclysmic for the world, and umbilical cords with nefarious motives. There is something for everyone in Putting On A Show.

With only two days to go of the Comedy Festival (and three opportunities left to see this) it's safe to call Putting On A Show one of the best shows of the festival. There's a level of excitement as you take your seat and begin to look at the set pieces and props on the stage. And as the lights begin to dim, there this indescribable feeling that runs through the audience as we eagerly await to go somewhere that we've never been before. That's magic. That's Alex Hines. That's Putting On A Show. And it's unmissable.


Venue: The Malthouse, 113 Sturt St, Southbank
 until 21 April | Fri - Sat 8pm, Sun 7pm
 55 minutes
 $25 - $30 Full | $22 - $25 Conc
 Melbourne International Comedy Festival

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