Sunday, April 19, 2009

Comedy Festival review #21 - 23

Kiosk is a new outing for Melbourne boy Wes Snelling, and is an excellent showcase for his ever-developing skills as a performer. Less a cabaret show, more theatre-based, it's an exploration through song of his childhood; a story about growing up in the Kyneton Caravan Park and of the characters who lived there.

If you're a fan of Snelling's work, then you'll definitely enjoy the opportunity to watch him push himself as a performer, relying on his acting skills and a handful of simple props - a handkerchief, a hat, a handbag - rather than full costumes, to convey the progression from character to character: Diane, a grotesque mother, the dim-witted Tony, the shrewish Leonie from Niddrie, and Tina, an aging alcoholic singer...

Live music is provided by a band dressed as workmen on the under-construction bypass road that will sound the death knell for the caravan park; and a scene in which young Wes eavesdrops on their raucous conversation is rich with homoerotic subtext.

Treat yourself at Kiosk - it's great.

On Friday night I caught two shows about which I'd heard excellent word of mouth: the penultimate performance of Beaconsfield: The Musical (formerly Beaconsfield: A Musical in A-Flat Minor at Melbourne Fringe last year) followed by The Bedroom Philosopher's Songs from the 86 Tram.

Beaconsfield is a savagely satirical exploration of the media feeding frenzy that descended on the Tasmanian town of the same name in 2006, following the mining disaster which killed Larry Knight and made temporary stars out of Brant Webb and Todd Russell.

Eddie McGuire, Mel and Kochie, Naomi Robson and all the other major players come under scathing attack in this simply staged but vividly realised production, the season which has now unfortunately ended. A wonderfully funny and merciless show about media excess which I thoroughly enjoyed.

The Bedroom Philosopher's hilarious Songs from the 86 Tram is without doubt my favourite show of the festival to date.

In it,
this acutely talented performer brings the journey from Bundoora to Docklands on my local tram route, the #86, to wonderful, three dimensional life through character-based monologue and song. As Steve Bennett writes at Chortle, this is 'a concept album of a show'; told through the tram driver's sometimes (appropriately) muffled announcements and by a series of instantly recognisable characters: the talkative but forgettful grandmother, the depressed housewife, the Northcote hipster, the Collingwood junkie, the city suit, and others.

Myself and my mate Martin, who saw the show with me, and the audience as a whole, were in constant fits of laughter throught this show, from go to woah. I implore, nay insist, that you see this quintessentially Melbourne show as soon as you can: it's as close to perfect a comedy production as I've ever seen.

Kiosk: ***
Beaconsfield the Musical: ****
Songs from the 86 Tram: **** 1/2

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