22 September 2013

FRINGE: Songs for Europe

Songs for Europe
Shaolin Punk
21 September 2013
Broken Mirror Productions
to 29 September

Nul points at Eurovision. If you think a one-star review is humiliating, imagine getting 0 stars when the people around you got over 100 for also singing a cheesy song, with a perfect key change, while wearing a fabulous gown as millions of people watch you on the telly. Songs for Europe isn't about the fabulous hair and endless glitter of Eurovision; it's two stories about people who love the contest, but wish that it wasn't part of their lives.

The first play, by John Richards, is an imagined back-stage encounter with a woman who didn't get a single point. Years later, she is still performing, and is tracked down by a British journalist who is trying to interview all of the nul pointers.  Full of heart, it's a work that has a spike under every joke, gently questions its audience far more than the singer, and remembers that there are real people behind our wittiest mocking.

The second play, by Lee Zachiriah, is about a group of revolutionaries on the eve of the 1974 Portuguese Revoution. Waiting in a cafe, they listen to the radio waiting for the signal to storm the streets: a Eurovision song. One is more passionate about the song contest than the pending revolt, but all have to change their plans when a stranger orders a muscatel and possibly knows what they are waiting for.

Both are full of Eurovision facts and the blend of real and fiction is flawless enough to ensure that those who see it will be adding these stories to their own Eurovision memories, but the hugeness and glitz of their Eurovision background needs to be brought more onto the stage and into the world. 

Songs for Europe is on tonight and next week. The performers (Marta Kaczmarek, Nick Colla, Angus Brown, Noah Moon, Jack Beeby, Chris Broadstock and Petra Elliott) are consistently terrific and the writing surprises at every turn. At Broken Mirror in Brunswick (off Blyth St near the Mediterranean Wholesalers car park for anyone trying to find it with Apple or Google maps), it's away from the buzz of the Hub, but there's a bar, comfy couches and the chances of meeting someone who loves Eurovision as much as you do is pretty high. 

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