2012 Melbourne Fringe:
• Pride Hard
• Tragedy & Time Are Thinking Inside The Box

Posted on 08 October 2012

Pride Hard

Mash-ups are a lot of fun. The more incongruous the items being mashed up, the greater the hilarity from suprising parallels and twisted absurdities. For Melbourne Fringe Festival Rob Lloyd (television: Thank God You’re Here, Live on Bowen; stage: The Hounds, Who Me) has created a mash-up of the 1988 action film classic Die Hard with Jane Austen’s Pride and PrejudicePride Hard. To assist in this silliness is actor Kelsey Gade.

Lloyd is an exceptional actor and more relevantly an exceptional comic actor. He knows how to fill a stage. He’s skilled in managing the energy of a room. He knows how to embody a character and project emotion. He’s not shy when it comes to farcical exaggeration. Ham is appropriate and expected when performing comedy.

Gade needs some self-confidence, but her performance in Pride Hard shows she has a lovely comic sparkle that engages the audience. Her impression of Alan Rickman had me in stitches. Everyone loved the gorgeous vivacity with which she sang the ending song.

Pride Hard has both charm and wit. The biggest belly-laughs of the night were when 20th century trash talk was translated into mannered British speech. Humour was doled out at a lively pace, so without needing to understand the plot, the audience had a good time. This is an important point, because sometimes the story fell into a tangled jumble.

Ballets often attempt to capture plots far too complex to fully embody in movement, so they have programme guides that give an overview of the story. Pride Hard could have used a programme with quick summaries of both Die Hard and Pride and Prejudice. Compressing two sprawling works into a one hour show, without explanation, was always going to be a challenge. This is compounded by the volume of characters included and swapping off who plays them.

Lloyd and Gade are a delight to watch. Their zest makes Pride Hard take off as a comic work. I look forward to seeing them perform more mash-ups, perhaps Angry Housewives with Wind in the Willows.

Pride Hard Melbourne Fringe Website

Tragedy & Time Are Thinking Inside The Box

In 1981 Cambridge Footlights performed at Edinburgh Fringe and won the first Edinburgh Comedy Award, then known as the Perrier Award. In that group were Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, and Emma Thompson. By 1983 those three were joined by Ben Elton and Robbie Coltrane in the sketch comedy TV series Alfresco. I mention Alfresco because if you take a look at the episodes, they are clearly the early work of these great comic writer/performers. Stephen Fry’s acting is so stiff, you would have been hard pressed at the time to guess at his future.

This is early days for the Tragedy & Time troupe, but I would say that their material shows as much promise as anything in Alfresco. The “Officer & a Gentleman” sequence of sketches would play very well on TV. The sketch involving two men in charge of pressing or not pressing the buttons for unleashing nuclear annhilation on the world was sharp, professional, and very very funny. The writing overall was top notch.

The comic acting was a little uneven. Some troupe members would do well to work on comic expressiveness. Stand in front of a mirror and practise making faces at yourself. Record yourself speaking and bring in as much vocal variety as possible. Go nuts with the extremity of your performance until you get comfortable with exaggeration.

As I suspected Lauren Bok is a natural when it comes to sketch comedy. She brings a delightful whackiness to her characters, supported by a beautifully mobile face that can mug like there’s no tomorrow. Tom Lang’s comic delivery was vibrant with humorous possibility. What funny thing would he be doing next? He’s likable and he broadcasts a sense of goodwill toward his audience—a winning combination. Rosie Vernel’s songs were her comic high point. Ben Vernel didn’t get enough of an outing this time around, but I enjoyed his performance in “Textual Analysis”. Bert Maverick was particularly enjoyable as a detective in “Ice Bust”. The role suited him and he should explore it more.

I had a wonderful time and mark Tragedy & Time Are Thinking Inside The Box as one of my favourite shows this year. Keep at it guys!

Tragedy & Time are Thinking Inside The Box Melbourne Fringe Website

Peace and Kindness,

Katherine


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