18 August 2013

Mini review: Travelling Worm Show!

Hey! Yeah! It's Molly's Travelling Worm Show!
HELIUM
17 August 2013
The Tower, Malthouse Theatre
to 24 August
malthousetheatre.com.au


The undoubtable appeal of Hey! Yeah! It's Molly's Travelling Worm Show! is its embracing of all things crap.

It's based on the true-enough story of Melita Rowston's search for the “best damn crap tourism destination" that she discovered in her adventures around the world. But it's not about her adventures, it's about her crappest of the crap: the worm festival held in the 1970s and 80s in the tiny Gippsland town of Korumburra. Here the area's unique three-metre worms were celebrated, celebrities like Daryl Somers were crowned Worm King and local kids came to Melbourne for the Moomba parade with a giant worm puppet called Karmai. You don't get much crapper than than.


So this show, where Melita's now Molly, starts with a love of crap as its artistic guide. Molly arrives in a dodgy motel, having kidnapped a famous ostrich and crow puppet. She goes a bit meta with explaining that they're in a motel in a theatre and that their quest is to find Karmai's puppet master.

With help from performer Narda Shanley and puppeter Benito Di Fonzo, there are some very funny moments and the nostalgia oozes, but there's a fine line between celebrating crap and falling into it.

If this were a half-hour, late-night Fringe show, the worm could be a squirmy hit, but this version is too long, gets lost in its own story, isn't sure who its audience is and doesn't feel sure about what it's trying to share. There's something very lovely about Molly's worm adventure, so it's hard to totally dismiss it, but its genuine delight is still buried in the compost and needs some extra time with the worm bin.

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