30 August 2008

A Suicide for Winter

A Suicide for Winter
The Tiger Lillies
August 4 2008
North Melbourne Town Hall

If I have bar for measuring great cabaret, it’s The Tiger Lillies. If I have a bar for measuring great comedy, it’s The Tiger Lillies. The inspired punk cabaret of A Suicide for Winter continues to defy genre, as it draws new comers into the (alleged) Tiger Lillies cult.

Melbourne joyously revels in regular visits from the UK based trio. (Songwriter, singer, accordion player and piano player Martyn Jacques, bass/musical saw player Adrian Stout and percussionist extraordinaire Adrian Huge.) Many cabaret artists claim their  dark, ironic and so naughty influence, but none dare copy as this trio balance on the summit of originality.

A Suicide for Winter mixes old favourites with a new selection of Deadly Sins (anyone currently in Edinburgh can see all seven sins in their new show). No hamsters, sheep or giraffes with sky-high vaginas were defiled in this display of harmonious musings, but the wonderful Huge took a poo joke to a level that would make a poo-obsessed toddler blush, and, I am surprised, that this is the first time I’ve seen Jacques play the piano with a rubbery sex toy.

White faced, be-suited, ponytailed and a little bit pudgy Jacques doesn’t try to be a lead singer. The glorious melancholy of his music seeps into your soul and gently squeezes your heart until it bleeds. His castrati-style vocals channel the distorted libidos of every true castrato, as he reveals a world of sordid violence and desperation that would break the most calloused heart – but you’re far too busy laughing to care.

Perhaps if Brecht had written a Carry On script (Carry on One-Legged Transsexual Crack Whore) and Ken Loach was asked to direct, it may come close to the images that flow from Jacques’s mind – but it would still feel like The Sound of Music in comparison.

If the content of A Suicide for Winter weren’t so extreme, it would just be smutty and dull. As the world is united in its worship of young, lycra-clad people with no body fat and IQs the size of a competing rhythmic gymnasts waist (listen to them being interviewed), it’s a comfort to have ‘the best freak show in town’ acting as a much needed counter balance.

PS.  If I ever have a funeral, please play ‘Getting old’ by The Tiger Lillies, even if it does result in some walkouts.

Photo by Andrew Attkinson

This review appeared on AussieTheatre.com.

Winner - What I Liked in 2008.

07 August 2008

First Man Standing

First Man Standing
Rod Quantock
7 August 2008
Trades Hall

1968 was a year of change, protest and assassination. Nixon was elected, Hussein came into power and someone left the cake out in the rain in ‘McArthur Park’. Back in Melbourne, a young architecture student took some jokes to the review stage, and he hasn’t left yet.

Rod Quantock has been nudging our sensibilities for 40 years. As I was born in 1968, I am rather fond of that year. We’re the love children of the 60s, we managed a year or two of free tertiary education (which I spent in the uni bar), and we still can’t believe that anyone seriously supported little Johnny Howard.  We’re not Baby Boomers, but we’re too old to identify with Generation X, so I’m declaring us Generation Rod.

He’s been there all our life. We probably first saw him on the 80s sketch comedy Australia: you’re standing in it, or it might have been a Captain Snooze ad. As we started hanging out at Fringes, there was Rod, fuelling our leftie anger as we enjoyed our middle class arts festivals. The luckiest ones have been on a Bus trip and met Trevor the rubber chicken. (I would have been there, if I hadn’t been living in Adelaide at the time.)

In First Man Standing, Rod celebrates the last 40 years. There’s a lot of reminiscing to be had. Victorians revelled in the Jeff era, but Rod’s most heartfelt thanks was to Little Johnny – the man who wrote every one of his jokes for 11 years. Then he gives us another chance to cheer because the little critter was voted out of his own seat. Kevin07 isn’t funny enough yet to take Johhny’s place, but Rod knows the tide will turn. In the meantime, Peter Garrett is doing a fine job of becoming our most embarrassing politician. (Us Generation Rodders are burning our Midnight Oil vinyls in disgust.)

Rod’s style doesn’t change much, but he has moved from blackboard and chalk to laptop and mouse. (However, he uses technology like someone who still can’t believe that computers really exist.) If you saw his recent Melbourne Comedy Festival show will be thrilled to see the late comers and audience statistic graphs have developed. And latecomers – well you have been warned.

The best comedy comes from truth. Sure, we laugh at Jeff’s phallic sculptures, and Bracks and Brumby’s round tunnels, but we’re only laughing because the other option is crying. Rod’s comedy is as sharp, intelligent and bitingly hilarious as ever.

One of the great things about his shows is the audiences. It’s rare to see people in their teens and in their 60s cacking themselves at the same material. Young ones in the audience (anyone under 45) can look forward to a very special moment. If you screamed at your parents, marched in protest, or re-used plastic bags before it became cool: Rod leads the Baby Boomers present in an apology to the generations Rod, X and Y. But do we feel any better knowing that our projections of environmental disaster have come to fruition…Sometimes it might be nicer to be proven wrong.

If you’ve enjoyed Mr Q at anytime over the last 40 years (even if it was just as Captain Snooze), get down to Trades Hall for First Man Standing – you won’t be disappointed. If you’ve somehow managed to miss him in the last 40 years, it’s time you found out what all the fuss is about.

This review appeared on AussieTheatre.com