2010 Melbourne Fringe Festival Reviews Part 3:
* Ever Since the Dawn of Anne
* We Are Doing Well
* Love Hunter

Posted on 04 October 2010

Anne Edmonds in Ever Since the Dawn of Anne

Recently, I’ve picked up an interest in cabaret performance: what it is, who’s doing it, and how to participate. Cabaret involves comedy, song, dance, and theatre, usually in a semi-formal venue where drinks and perhaps meals are served. My experience of cabaret is that it also involves a personal and over-arching story. This story holds the diverse performances together. Cabaret is just one step away from musicals, but it always broaches adult topics.

Anne Edmonds’s performance in Ever Since the Dawn of Anne was heavy on the comedy side of things, but included song and dance, all drawn together to tell the story of her life. Cabaret often uses existing music and may alter the words in songs to suit. Anne created her own original songs. These were well-performed and enjoyably tuneful.

Anne’s story was quintessentially Australian. She outlined the stages of growing up a bogan in Melbourne’s western suburbs. From my experience this is not usual cabaret fare, which often evokes the glamorous and the daring. However, it seems to be a development in this country. The roots may be seen in the likes of Dame Edna. Note Australian subjects include not only mixing up class cultures, but also the poignantly mundane.

Ever Since the Dawn of Anne is a beautifully conceived and well-executed piece of theatre. The stories about subjects as diverse as burning down the local park at eight to having to take the morning after pill as a teenager were told smoothly and with perfect timing. No polite applause or nervous titters held this show up, Anne had genuine hearty laughs throughout.

http://www.melbournefringe.com.au/fringe-festival/show/anne-edmonds-ever-since-the-dawn-of-anne

We Are Doing Well by Forty Forty Home

This was my random show of the festival. I knew no one in it, I had heard nothing about it, and it was listed in performance rather than comedy. I had no expectations when I joined the audience.

At first I was afraid I had stumbled into an existential psycho-drama and was bracing myself for an attention challenging fifty minutes. The story follows the thoughts and feelings of a news anchor (actor Brigid Gallacher) who has just had a nervous breakdown on live to air television. She joins the anchor of a breakfast show (co-writer Erin Kelly) in a relaxation room/metaphysical space of the mind (?).

Soon a mascot soccer ball called Helvetica (co-writer Rafaella McDonald) enters the scene and things are further confused by the entrance of a dancing Danish (not a person from Denmark, a living discoing pastry). The level of absurdity went to eleven and I absolutely loved it.

These are the sorts of shows using the sorts of ideas to which comedians and creators should pay attention. It’s doubtful We Are Doing Well will make the mainstream, but elements should inspire people to push the boundaries and present audiences with something fresh and engaging. Graham Linehan co-creator of Father Ted and creator of The IT Crowd specialises in some of this sort of weirdness. I regularly get asked what I’ve been smoking when I head into this territory.

We Are Doing Well is a worthwhile piece of theatre and I hope it gets the chance to successfully tour to other festivals. [Special note: Tegan Perry’s dancing as the Danish was AWESOME!]

http://www.melbournefringe.com.au/fringe-festival/show/we-are-doing-well

Love Hunter

Love Hunter was advertised in the dance section of the Fringe guide. It promised to fuse dance, theatre, and comedy. This piqued my interest. In what way were they fusing dance and comedy? Would it be a pastiche of dance forms of the past? Would it interpretively enact moments of comedy as is done within works like The Nutcracker? Would humour be woven through a lively work as is done in Stomp or Tap Dogs?

Certainly I found elements of all these humorous approaches in Love Hunter. The show offers a trio of monologues about people’s differing experiences of love, surrounded by dance. Sometimes that dance was simply meant to draw out an emotion, other times it outright portrayed the absurdity of sexual politics on the dance floor. Most of the humour was reserved for the spoken sections, but the work was still well integrated.

What glowed about this work was how present each performer was in their story. They were utterly earnest and believable. The dance itself was well thought-out and flawlessly executed with a solid sense of commitment.

I don’t know that I would call it comedy. It certainly had humour and that was worth advertising. The purpose of comedy is to be funny. The purpose of this work was to touch on the range of emotions that comes with exploring relationships. Certainly, this was done with a light and deeply enjoyable touch, but I believe to call it comedy short changes the breadth of exploration. I may be splitting hairs.

I’m concerned that perhaps this show didn’t receive the attention it deserves due to its short running time. People may not have felt it was value for money. As an emerging artist, it’s always worthwhile teaming up with other performers. So, perhaps combining with another thirty minute show would have been of use. The other possibility would be to lenghthen the monologues and split them in two. Start with a build up in all three stories, then run through the characters again as they reveal their conclusions.

I look forward to seeing more from this troupe.

http://www.melbournefringe.com.au/fringe-festival/show/love-hunter

Peace and kindness,

Katherine


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