20 April 2018

MICF: Bossy Bottom

Bossy Bottom
Zoe Coombs Marr
4 April 2018
Melbourne Town Hall, Powder Room
to 22 April

Zoe Coombs Marr

I'm sure that Bossy Bottom will be sold out this weekend. I also suspect that most people who read this blog have already seen it.

We know that Zoe Coombs Marr is one of the best. I'll see anything she does because her shows leave my brain hurting as much as my jaw does from laughing.

Bossy Bottom is far from Dave and the BarryAward–winning Trigger Warning but it's everything – and so much more – that Zoe's next show should be.

There are plenty of stars and reviews out there and I know that writing a not-a-review for an artist who made a show about shit reviewers isn't the best idea, but I've run out of time and have to get to Bendigo for a wedding.

You know if you have see Bossy Bottom, you don't need me to tell you.

MICF: Almost Lesbians

Almost Lesbians
Catface Productions
8 April 2018
Imperial Hotel, Stella Room
to 8 April 

Anna Piper Scott, Sophie Joske

I so want Almost Lesbians to win the Golden Gibbo award for "awesome comedy that cares more about what it's doing rather than pleasing the masses". To be fair, I haven't seen all of the nominated shows, so my opinion isn't that credible. But they so want to win it; so much that they made a show that tried to include everything that award winners have in their shows.

I didn't see Anna Piper Scott and Sophie Joskeshow until their last night. They are from Perth but they will be back (they'd better be back!) and I can say that they are both now honorary Melbourners – cos we love them.

Anna is the straight m... Fuck...  I mean ...  Yes, we need to keep changing our dated, dull and restrictive language.

Sophie is the enthusiastic bouncy puppy, Anna is the older cat who's happy to swipe when the bounciness gets to much.

They subvert expectations about comedy duos as much as they subvert and confront mainstream expectations about queer women – and queer expectations about queer women. Being an "almost" is as much about being on the margins of the queer community as it is about being queer on the margins of the world that pushes people to the margins.

They both have girlfriends, so they should be easy to put in a queer box. (Sorry; it's my only box pun this festival.) But as Anna is trans and Sophie is bi, they deal with being misgendered, told their not gay – or straight – enough and being asked the sort of questions that aren't any of the business of a stranger, friend or close family member. We all know Sophie's "heterosexual Hannah" character far too well (if we haven't unintentionally been her).

Almost Lesbians isn't about being almost a lesbian, it's about being your authentic self and challenging every comment, glance or attitude that thinks you're not wonderfully perfect exactly how you are.

And they are perfectly fabulous exactly how they are.

19 April 2018

MICF: Ghost Machine

Ghost Machine
Laura Davis

4 April 2018
Butterfly Club

Ghost Machine

This isn't a review, it's a directive.

If you somehow haven't seen Laura Davis perform, what do I have to do to convince you? I've done the stars,  adjectives and quoteables.

She's moving to the UK in a couple of weeks, so this really might be your last chance because I think the UK is going to love her and keep her and give her so much work that the next time she's back here, it's because she's famous.

I first saw her at the Melbourne Fringe in 2013 (I think). I saw her because the venue tech thought I'd really like her work. They were right.

Since then, every new show she's done has not only seen her develop as a writer and observer of the world, but she's questioned stand-up and confronted so many of the expectations of women performing in this industry.

Ghost Machine blew me away a bit when I saw it in 2015. What must a performer be going through to decided to make themselves unseen on the stage? 

I interviewed Laura for The Music earlier in the year. This quote didn't make it. We were talking about women in comedy.

"Imagine how much female comics love comedy when you're quite often turning up to a dig where it's dangerous for you to physically get to it late at night. You probably don't have many mates on the lineup because it's an all male lineup, and you know that you won't be included in the sort of social collateral that comes with it. You probably won't be given the choice spot on the lineup, you'll be paid a little bit less and then you've got a scary walk home after. You deal with all the punters who tell you that women aren't funny and that you've got great tits and you just need to shut up – and multiply that by a career, with so many women. Not that everybody has that experience every night, but it's always something that I've tried to point out to people. Imagine how much you like doing this and care about this. I'm passionate about this as an art form. But there's no way you would choose it. Spending all my early 20s in a scary bar with scary man doing weird gigs; that's a real choice but feels like it goes hand in hand with passion for the art form."

It is getting better, but we still know stories of women being treated atrociously in the industry and too many women have stories about being asked to show their tits. We're getting better, but we still have a way to go.

18 April 2018

MICF: Queen Bitch

Queen Bitch
Geraldine Quinn
13 April 2018
Merlyn Theatre, Coopers Malthouse
to 22 April

Geraldine Quinn

Geraldine Quinn is so damn Melbourne that seeing her shows should be compulsory when you first move here. Knowing the difference between McKinnon, Noble Park North and Brunswick really will help anyone understand how we tick. And everyone knows that we learn best though song.

I would so watch a TV show called Quinn's Melbourne.

They should also be compulsory for everyone who never comes to the south, east or south-east side of the city. And for everyone who lives on the south, east or south-east side of the city, because it's nice to see our often-forgotten cultures the stage.

Her shows should mostly be compulsory because she's one of the best music cabaret performers around and captures the heart of our town by showing us hers.

Queen Bitch is more personal than some of her previous shows. It's sometimes easier, and safer, to hide behind a big voice and bigger attitude, but revealing the person underneath the make up and the shiny outfits brings her so much closer to her audience.

She starts with our Livvy, roller skates and Xanadu and jumps to being in her 40s and life unraveling so quickly there's not much left to save even if she can grab the end of the yarn. But it's also about taking chances and finding that love can be an awesome bitch.

And she's joined by wonderful musicians Xani Kolac and Roderick Cairns.

MICF: Completely Improvised Shakespeare

Completely Improvised Shakespeare

8 April 2018
Hare Hole
to 22 April 2018

Completely Improvised Shakespeare

This festival may have  changed my opinion about improv shows. Improv really has changed a lot since the 1980s.

And I don't understand why Melbourne's Soothplayers aren't a crowd-hanging-from-the-rafters cult.

Sure, improvising a new Shakespeare play based only on a title (we had The Mermaid of the Jungle) seems a bit nerdy, but...

OK, it is totally nerdy, but you are reading a nerdy theatre blog.

So, you're probably also going to loveth every Shakespeare joke and marveleth at how a group of six actors (and one musician) create a never-to-be-repeated story in front of your eyes.

They also do Completely Improvised Potter.

MICF: Days of Our Hives

Days of our Hives
Alanta Colley
12 April 2018
to 22 April

Alanta Colley

Listen to the buzz about this one. Beelieve me.

Sorry. I tried not to pun because Alanta Colley isn't a pun fan. But they drip like...

Colley works in pubic health, education and international development. She also knows a lot about bees and has her own backyard hive in Northcote.

Days of our Hives is her story about her bees – I had no idea that so few bees make honey – and about how it takes a community to look after them.

Some of the most delightfully engaging stand-up is simple story telling. Not that there's anything simple about chasing a swarm of bees down an urban street with Italian nonnas, grumpy bee-poo-hating neighbours and old factories to contend with.

If I didn't live in a rented flat, I would so have a hive of bees, and I don't care if honey is bee vomit.

MICF: Po Po Mo Co

Po Po Mo Co
12 April 2018
Trades Hall, The Archive Room
to 22 April

Po Po Mo Co

Melbourne's Po Po Mo Co take queer clowning so far over the rainbow that the rainbow looks dull in comparison.

With a pink-sequinned curtain, spooky villagers and bum puppets*,  the indie troupe re-imagine the famous 1922 German Expressionist film as a sexed-up panto, and ensure that "She/he/they is behind you!" never gets old.

With host nurse Regina (who qualified from the make-everything-sexy Halloween university), Nosfer-ARSE-tu is all cheek as a wealthy doctor leaves his wife to travel to a mysterious castle to pursue the truth that lies in his heart, and his arse. And don't worry, the wife gets to do some deep exploring of her own.

Po Po Mo Co are super camp, super queer and so outrageously post-postmodern that they defy description.

*Even if Betty Grumble does it better.

13 April 2018

MICF: Love and Anger

Love and Anger
Betty Grumble
Coopers Malthouse, Merlyn Theatre
11 April 2018
To 22 April

Love and Anger: Betty Grumble

My review is in Time Out.

The subtext of the review is:

Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. CUNT. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt! Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt... Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt? Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. Yes. YES. YES!

10 April 2018

MICF: Empowerful

Cindy Salmon: Empowerful
Hayley Tantau
ACMI, Games Room
7 April 2018
To 22 April

Cindy Salmon

Another woman smashing the patricarchy and MICF.

My review is in Time Out.

09 April 2018

35th Green Room Awards

Green Room Awards
9 April 2018
Comedy Theatre

Tonight the 35th Green Room Award winners were announced in a ceremony at the Comedy Thearte; the nominees were announced in February.

The Green Room Awards are Melbourne’s only peer-assesssed performing arts industry awards.



Artiste: Gillian Cosgriff  for 8 Songs in 8 Weeks (Gillian Cosgriff, The Butterfly Club as part of MICF)

Ensemble: YUMMY, Valerie Hex, Karen From Finance, Tanzer, James Andrews, Beni Lola, Hannie Heldsen, Benjamin Hancock and Zelia Rose (YUMMY, Melba Spiegeltent as part of MICF)

Writing: Gillian Cosgriff  for 8 Songs in 8 Weeks(Gillian Cosgriff, The Butterfly Club as part of MICF)

Original Songs: Jude Perl for Roommates: The Musical and Let's Hang Out (Hot Mess Productions, The Butterfly Club, The Coopers Malthouse as part of MICF)

Musical Direction: Mark Jones for Cyrens (Melissa Langton, Amanda Harrison and Chelsea Gibb, Chapel Off Chapel as part of Melbourne Cabaret Festival)

Production: YUMMY (YUMMY, Melba Spiegeltent as part of MICF)

Outstanding Contribution To Cabaret: Ron and Margaret Dobell

Contemporary and Experimental Performance


Performer or Ensemble: wãni Le Frère in Tales of an Afronaut (Arts House)

Sound Performance: Between 8 and 9 (Chengdu Teahouse Project) (Chamber Made Opera and Sichuan Conservatory of Music, co-presented by Castlemaine State Festival and Melbourne Recital Centre for Asia TOPA)

Design: Emily Barrie, Michael Carmody, Jethro Woodward and Richard Vabre for For The Ones Who Walk Away (Nadja Kostich and St Martins)

Curatorial Contribution: Asia TOPA, Asia-Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts

Curatorial Contribution: Yirramboi, First Nations Arts Festival

Contemporary Circus: Chasing Smoke. Natano Fa'anana, Director (Circus Oz/BLAKflip)

Community Collaboration: All The Queens Men Body of Work,  Congress, The Coming Back Out Ball and Fun Run.

Puppetry: Life is a Carousel (Sanctum Theatre and Magic Lantern Studio)

Work for Young Audiences: Junk (Flying Fruit Fly Circus)

Production: We All Know What's Happening (Samara Hersch and Lara Thoms)


Female Performer: Lilian Steiner for Body of Work

Male Performer: Kimball Wong for Be Your Self (Australian Dance Theatre)

Ensemble, Duo or Trio: Split (Lucy Guerin Inc)

Visual Design: Fausto Brusamolino, Boris Morris Bagattini, Clare Britton, Victoria Hunt, Annemaree Dalziel and Justine Shih Pearson  for TANGI WAI...The Cry of Water (Victoria Hunt)

Music Composition and Sound Design: Senyawa (Rully Shabara and Wukir Suryadi) for Attractor (Dancenorth and Lucy Guerin Inc.)

Shirley McKechnie Award for Choreography: Lucy Guerin for Split (Lucy Guerin Inc)

Concept and Realisation: Split (Lucy Guerin Inc)

Independent Theatre

Meciless Gods. Sapidah Kian

Performer: Dushan Philips for Angels in America (Cameron Lukey and Dirty Pretty Theatre in association with fortyfivedownstairs)

Performer: Jennifer Vuletic for Merciless Gods (Little Ones Theatre in association with Darebin Arts Speakeasy)

Ensemble: Song For a Weary Throat (Rawcus in association with Theatre Works)

Lighting Design: Amelia Lever-Davidson for Looking Glass (New Working Group in association fortyfivedownstairs)

Set and Costume Design: Eugyeene Teh for The Happy Prince (Little Ones Theatre in association with La Mama)

Music Composition and Sound Design: Jethro Woodward and Gian Slater for Song For a Weary Throat (Rawcus in association with Theatre Works)

Writing: Dan Giovannoni after Christos Tsiolkas for Merciless Gods (Little Ones Theatre in association with Darebin Arts Speakeasy)

Direction: Stephen Nicolazzo for The Happy Prince (Little Ones Theatre in association with La Mama)

Production: Song For a Weary Throat (Rawcus in association with Theatre Works)

Music Theatre

Female Lead: Christie Whelan Browne for Vigil (Arts Centre Melbourne)

Male Lead: Charles Edwards for My Fair Lady (Opera Australia and John Frost)

Female in a Supporting Role: Robyn Nevin for My Fair Lady (Opera Australia and John Frost)

Male in a Supporting Role: Reg Livermore for My Fair Lady (Opera Australia and Frost)

Lighting Design: Natasha Katz for Aladdin The Musical (Disney Theatrical Productions)

Set Design: Bob Crowley for Aladdin The Musicall (Disney Theatrical Productions)

Costume Design: Gregg Barnes for Aladdin The Musical (Disney Theatrical Productions)

Sound Design: Michael Waters for My Fair Lady (Opera Australia and John Frost)

Music Direction/Supervision: Guy Simpson for My Fair Lady (Opera Australia and Frost)

Betty Pounder Award for Excellence in Choreography: Casey Nicholaw for Aladdin The Musical (Disney Theatrical Productions)

Direction: Gary Young for Hello Dolly! (The Production Company)

Direction: Tyran Parke for Ordinary Days (Pursued by Bear)

Production: Aladdin The Musical (Disney Theatrical Productions)


Female Lead: Lorina Gore for King Roger (Opera Australia)

Male Lead: Michael Honeyman for King Roger (Opera Australia)

Female in a Supporting Role: Dominica Matthews for Cavalleria Rusticana (Opera Australia)

Male in a Supporting Role: James Egglestone for King Roger (Opera Australia)

Conductor: Andrea Molino for King Roger (Opera Australia)

Lighting Design: Jon Clark for King Roger (Opera Australia)

Set and Costume Design: Steffen Aarfing for King Rogerr (Opera Australia)

Direction: Damiano Michieletto for Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci (Opera Australia)

Production: King Roger (Opera Australia)

Theatre Companies

Wild Bore. Adrienne Truscott

Female Performer: Kate Mulvany for Richard III (Bell Shakespeare)

Male Performer: Paul Blackwell for Faith Healer (Melbourne Theatre Company and Belvoir)

Ensemble: Wild Bore (Malthouse Theatre)

Lighting Design: Paul Jackson for Away (Malthouse Theatre and Sydney Theatre Company) and
Testament of Mary (Malthouse Theatre)

Set and Costume Design: Dale Ferguson for Away (Malthouse Theatre and Sydney Theatre Company)

Music Composition and Sound Design: J. David Franzke for Away (Malthouse Theatre and Sydney Theatre Company)

New Writing/Adaptation for the Australian Stage: Nathan Maynard for The Season (Tasmania Performs)

Direction: Isaac Drandic for The Season (Tasmania Performs)

Production: The Season (Tasmania Performs)

Geoffrey Milne Memorial Award: Candy Bowers

Technical Achievement Award proudly sponsored by ARUP: Jethro Woodward

Lifetime Achievement Award: Sue Giles

Disclosure: I've was on the Independent Theatre Panel in 2017.