20 March 2010

Review: Little Mercy

Little Mercy
Sisters Grimm

17 March 2010
Collingwood Underground Arts Park


Bettcha they’re young, Bettcha they’re smart, Bet they collect things like 1920s gay porn and Carry On memorabilia. The Sisters Grimm are back and I’m wondering if little orphan Annie was so bored waiting for the sun to come out, that she got off with Damien from The Omen and gave screaming birth to Declan Greene and Ash Flanders.

In 2006, Greene and Flanders changed their names to Grimm and pinky swore over a cask of Fruity Lexia to make the kind of theatre they wanted to see. Little did they know how many other depraved souls were equally as bored with our mainstream theatre and eager for a taste of high-camp, low-class trash and ball acting.

In Little Mercy, the sisters return to the Collingwood Underground Arts Park (the flats' car park), bringing with them their standard nun, fag and golden shower routines and a nasty little eight-year-old called Mercy.

Life is New England is good for Annie producer Roger (Sean-James Murphy) and his nearly-off-the-wagon wife Virginia (Flanders), but they need a little more love than their beloved pussy, Madonna, can offer.

Lucky for them, an orphanage takes pity and sends them sweet little Mercy (played by sweet little Susie Dee, who doesn’t look a day over 49 and who directed Greene’s recent A Black Joy), and Mercy's plight warrants the employment of a delightfully racist dom nanny (Cara Mitchell).

With a child, an impossibly tiny waist and improbably copious pearl necklace, Virginia has everything she ever dreamed of and is reluctant to notice the signs that all is not right.

Of course it’s not right; it’s a Sisters Grimm world, where the only thing more wrong than their casting and venue is their taste and respect. Be offended. This is the company whose Cellblock Booty was “the worst thing I’ve seen at any Fringe ever”, according to the Facebook entry of a 40-something parent from the wealthy suburbs of Adelaide.

Please, be offended. Just know that the only person you’re offended by is yourself, as those prejudices and preconceptions, that you swear you don’t have, come rushing to the surface. (Mine? I’m trying laugh at AIDS jokes – I know it’s time – but my 80s grim-reaper-influenced hackles rise every time. Although I did laugh at cat AIDS, so I must be heading in the right direction. Goodness, I might be laughing at Holocaust jokes by Easter!)

The Sisters insist that their content isn’t serious, but Flanders plays Virginia with an honesty than belies the satire and Greene’s direction forces us to ask why we are crying as we laugh (or embarrassingly snort out loud in my case).

To prove just how gorgeously wrong Melbourne can be, Little Mercy is selling out (even before my review!), so it’s worth booking – and don’t dare miss it just because the Comedy Festival starts next week and you want to see telly people do the same set you saw last year.

This review appeared on AussieTheatre.com.


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