2010 Melbourne Fringe Festival Reviews Part 4:
* The UnEnchanted Princess
* Truth Be Told
Posted on 06 October 2010
Linda Beatty in The UnEnchanted Princess
This was genuinely one of my favourite shows at the Fringe Festival this year: lovely Welsh harp, beautiful soaring voice, and insightful humour. Linda’s show is laced with charm, fun, and intelligence.
She draws us into a world where she has been lost in a magical wood for three days with her dinosaur friend. She’s dressed like a fairy princess, but she’s not the fairy princess. Her date dragged her into this mess in order to find one. She then takes us on a journey through many fairytales and their flaws.
One of the things I found relevent about this work was her comment that we need better stories. This is something of a crusade of mine. We are told certain stories as children, we play with the stories, we take them on, then expect them to be a model of reality when we grow up.
In my own show earlier this year I took on the concept of “happily ever after”. “Happily ever after” is an ongoing process made possible by a set of life skills, not a static state of contentment. Where are the fairytales about how to deal with the roof falling in? A lost job? An unfaithful spouse in your middle years?
I’m not talking about giving kids a good dose of reality, so they will toughen up. The values and lessons in our stories have reached their used by date. Fairytales usually deal in absolute solutions. Someone is bad because that is their nature and the only solution is to kill them. Saying it’s just a symbol doesn’t help. I am not convinced by people who claim these are “archetypes” we all necessarily carry around within us. In this way they have made parts of traditional culture unassailable religious dogma.
Linda points out in her show that she’s not interested in being an object awaiting rescue by a male from the upper classes. After all some perfectly good dwarves, excuse me “height challenged individuals”, make very good friends and lovers.
The UnEnchanted Princess is an adult work that calls upon us to outgrow childhood myths. Then perhaps some of us can begin weaving together stories that put the “fun” back into functional behaviour. I can highly recommend Linda as someone you would want to perform at libraries, corporate functions, arts festivals, and the like. Superb.
Andrew McClelland in Truth Be Told
In comedy you have people who specialise in one-liners, anecdotes, or storytelling. I enjoy all of these when in the hands of a skilled comedian.
The one-liner comedians in some ways have the toughest job. Their humour is evanescent, disappearing like ale bubbles as soon as the surprise in their jokes has been revealed. They regularly have to come up with new material.
Anecdotal humour requires memorising many vignettes which have been honed to comic perfection. These can be moved around and selected from according to audience response. Comedians must have a clear head, which can observe and calculate while telling each vignette, in order to select the next.
I would have to say my preferred comedians are the storytellers. They aren’t required to be funny, but they are required to be interesting. And a well told story can be enjoyed over and over again. Andrew McClelland demonstrates in his show Truth Be Told that he is a very fine storyteller.
Story shows will include vignettes and one-liners, but they are in service to a larger plot agenda. This calls upon a lot of forethought and structuring on the part of the comedian. Comedians have to find the correct entry point to their story: if they start too far back from the action, they can lose momentum and laughs. They have to pace events so that each builds on the one before, and they all add to comic tension. The whole story then leads to a cracker of a climax, which brings on the belly laughs. Certainly these elements can be played with, but this is the standard format.
Andrew told us the story about his relationship with the coat check chick at Museum Victoria: from its dubious beginnings to its sad end. Part of this journey involved outlining his likes, dislikes, and the nature of previous relationships. With each vignette he left us wondering what happens next, with each tale the stakes became higher in seeing him succeed with this chick.
I loved the fact that one of the relationships he included was the friendship he formed with an ex-girlfriend’s current beau. It was funny, it also served to provide contrast between his approach to manhood and dating and that of a French gendarme.
Andrew beautifully turned some phrases, often making them lyrical, evocative, and silly at the same time. One in particular I remember had to do with insect collecting and how his specimens were like mutant fairies martyred on foam board.
Truth Be Told is a delightful show and I’m planning on seeing more of Andrew’s performances.
Peace and kindness,