08 July 2018

Review: Lone

Lone
The Rabble and St Martins
8 June 2018
Arts House
to 17 June
artshouse.com.au

Lone. The Rabble and St Martins. Photo by Pier Carthew

My review is on Arts Hub.

20 April 2018

MICF: Bossy Bottom

Bossy Bottom
Zoe Coombs Marr
4 April 2018
Melbourne Town Hall, Powder Room
to 22 April
comedyfestival.com.au/

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 
comedyfestival.com.au


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
comedyfestival.com.au

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
comedyfestival.com.au

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
Soothplayers

8 April 2018
Hare Hole
to 22 April 2018
comedyfestival.com.au

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
Belleville
to 22 April
comedyfestival.com.au

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

Nosfer-ARSE-tu
Po Po Mo Co
12 April 2018
Trades Hall, The Archive Room
to 22 April
comedyfestival.com.au

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
comedyfestival.com.au

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
comedyfestival.com.au

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
greenroom.org.au

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.

Cabaret

YUMMY

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)

Dance


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)

Opera


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.

MICF: Fafenefenoiby II

Fafenefenoiby II: Return of the Ghost Boy
Neal Portenza

Neal Portenza and no one else even
7 April 2018
Melbourne Town Hall, Backstage Room
to 22 April
comedyfestival.com.au

Neal Portenza. Front row photo by Richard Watts

My review in Time Out.

We will never forget the Portenza years.

Fuck mediocrity.

08 April 2018

MICF: At Least I Have a Cat!

At Least I Have a Cat!
Nadine Sparks 
7 April 2018
Fad Gallery
to 8 April
comedyfestival.com.au

Nadine Sparks

Nadine Sparks is in her 40s, is single and lives alone with her old grumpy obsessive tortie cat? Why would I want to see that?

Sure she also shops at Aldi and City Chic, but Molly and I are both older and we live further down the Nepean. Totally different...

Sparks does old-school, this-is-me, like-it-or-lump-it stand-up. There are plenty of jokes, lots of laughing at herself, and she doesn't care about not being "PC" (although she may want to consider why she thinks that).

As with much of this type of stand-up, there's the potential to go deeper and tell a bigger story, but   her audience love her. Especially those who can relate to not being where they thought they were going to be in life by their 40s. Remember when 40 seemed so old?


She hates selfies
We share our critic's face

07 April 2018

MICF: No Way Rosé

No Way Rosé
Rose Callahan
A-List Entertainment
7 April 2018
Forum Theatre, Ladies Lounge (that has a different name)
to 22 April
comedyfestival.com.au

Rose Callahan

No Way Rosé. Rose Callahan had me with a pun title. She knows she has an audience that either loves puns or wine. Either is a winner. It's her third pun-titled show but the first time I've seen her.

See artists you haven't seen this festival. 

I get that it's great to play big rooms with thousands of adoring fans (and their $), but as an audience, there's nothing like seeing stand-up in tiny rooms where you will have to sit in the front row if you're late and you'll recognise the comedian in the street and think they're a friend because you know them so well.

Never be scared of tiny rooms at festivals.

Rose is 35 and has stopped having sex with younger men because she's in a relationship. Sure a volcano in Bali made romance difficult and she has an expensive toy that may or may not be helping the relationship, but she's doing it – and giving her single friends hope.

Grab a glass of cougar juice (she may have  ruined rosé for me), be first in line and make sure the front row is quickly filled so that any latecomers have to squish together in the back, leaving you free to become Rose's new friends and/or see the visual joke that's just for the front .


MICF: Volcano

Volcano
Tessa Waters

The Furies
1 April 2018
Green Centre, Aphrodite's Room
to 22 April
comedyfestival.com.au


Volcano. Tessa Waters

My review is in Time Out.




MICF: Two Little Dickheads

Two Little Dickheads
Sharnema Nougar and David Tieck

The Furies
7 April 2018
Imperial Hotel, Stella Room
to 15 April

Two Little Dickheads. Sharnema Nougar & David Tieck

Two Little Dickheads is produced by The Furies. That's a pretty good indication that it's going to be worth seeing as they've already given us Romeo Is Not The Only Fruit, Volcano and Clittery Glittery this festival. Indie producers rock.

I'm still not sure what this show is. I'm not sure if they know yet, but Sharnema Nougar and David Tieck combine character, improv and clowning to make comedy that is totally their own.

I loved every gorgeously weird moment of it. And not just because it has stories about cats.

Sharnema and David welcome us to their home. They are wearing matching pink t-shirts,  stunning silver eye shadow under their glasses, and pastel drawstring-waist cat-print pants (ok, they're pj bottoms). Their makeup is bio glitter and their two cats (that may double as hats) are rescues; they may be dickheads but they're not DICKHEADS.

With drinks shared around, we're ready for an odd day with the couple (who are also totally best friends) but disaster strikes and a shiny, silver meteorite – which is as pretty as a disco ball – is heading to earth. How will they spend their last day? Can the world really explode in a hotel comedy room?

See shows you have no idea about this festival.

MICF: Massive Bitch

Massive Bitch
Chelsea Zeller

2 April 2018
Butterfly Club
to 8 April
comedyfestival.com.au

Chelsea Zeller

The Butterfly Club is presenting and supporting so many amazing indie artists this festival; it's easy to stay for four shows each night – with cocktails for sustenance. To fit them all in, some shows have short runs and the massively funny Massive Bitch finishes this weekend.

Writing and performing every character, Chelsea Zeller turns the downstairs Butterfly Club into a tv studio where it's time to record to a daily live show. But the ratings are down, the crew is new, the guests are difficult, the presenters have had enough and the producer is a bitch.

Zeller moves from original character to original character without a hitch – even the interviews are so flawless that it's easy to forget there's only one person on stage. Structurally, the overall story needs some work, but it's the sharp characterisation and spot on jokes that keep the audience wanting more.

06 April 2018

MICF: Bush Rat

Bush Rat
Danielle Walker
A Token Event
Victoria Hotel, Vic's Bar
4 April 2018
To 22 April
comedyfestival.com.au

Bush Rat. Danielle Walker
My review is in Time Out.

04 April 2018

MICF: The Big Hoo-Haa

The Big HOO-HAA
2 April 2018
Backstage Room, Melbourne Town Hall (& the Lunch Room)
to 21 April
comedyfestival.com.au

The Big HOO-HAA


Hearts V Bones. Regular HOO-HAAers don't need any introduction.

The Big Hoo-HAA is a weekly improvisation show where the Hearts and Bones teams work with audience suggestions and compete to win the loudest applause or the most groans. Unforgivable puns and jokes that'd get rejected by Christmas crackers win points.

Just be warned that one show might not be enough and that they turn the dial up over 11 for the comedy festival.

What I love about improv is that it's so far away from writing. Writers can think about each sentence, we can fix mistakes and no one has to read first-draft drivel.

On an improv stage, there's no time and the performers have to work with whatever comes out. And if anyone thinks that we have control over our brains, look at the face of a performer when they are as surprised as anyone at what they just said or did.

There are rules to every game (the last time I did improv was back in the days of Theatre Sports) and that there are many skills to learn that make it easier. None of which make it any less terrifying or exhilarating. Life on stage without a script is a bit like life – except more people are watching.

It doesn't always work. But when the best on offer is that dinosaurs are allergic to tissues – where did that come from?! –, there are moments when someone realises that T-Rex rhymes with Kleenex and the team burst through from behind.

But the winner for the night: "Sex with me is like paprika: spicy and a little bit dry."

PS: The cast this week.
MC: Brianna Williams
Bones Team: Anna Renzenbrink, Elly Squire, Dan Debuf
Hearts Team: Candice D’Arcy, Caitlin McNaughton, Mark Gambino
Muso: Caleb Garfinkel

03 April 2018

MICF: Fleabag

Fleabag
DryWrite, Soho Theatre, Malthouse Theatre
29 March 2018
Beckett Theatre, Coopers Malthouse
to 22 April
comedyfestival.com.au

Fleabag. Maddie Rice. Photo by Richard Davenport

Phoebe Waller-Bridge's solo show Fleabag was a hit at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2013 and was developed into a TV series by the BBC in 2016 (it's on iView now; it's great).

Fleabag (we don't know her real name) lives in London, is in her late 20s and has recently lost her mum, her boyfriend and her best friend – two died, one left her. Her guinea pig–themed cafe has failed and a job interview gets off to an atrocious start.

It's a remarkable piece of writing that builds by revealing how the woman, whose side we so want to be on, has behaved in ways that make her so difficult to like.

It also has no issues with the fact that women have and think about sex, and can be empowered and/or fucked up by it. So many of the promo quotes about this show focus on her sexual behaviour, but it's not about the sex. Or about being a bad feminist.

It's about grief and regret and how obsessive behaviour is so often the only way to find control.

This touring production is performed by Maddie Rice. Her performance is very much like Waller-Bridge (both versions have been directed by Vicky Jones), but the distance of being an actor, and not the writer-performer, brings an outside view that brings a noticeably different degree of sympathy and understanding.

02 April 2018

MICF: It's not me, it's Lou

It's not me, it's Lou
Louisa Wall
30 March 2018
Shell Room, Coopers Malthouse
to 8 April
comedyfestival.com.au

Lousia Wall

There's a few nights left to do the Lou Wall double at Malthouse; she goes from It's not me, it's Lou, her solo show, to the raved-about Romeo is Not the Only Fruit. 

Lou's in her early 20s, so she has plenty of indulgent Facebook statuses as fodder for her cabaret about being part if the social media generation. I love social media, but I'm so glad it didn't exist when I was in my teens; us Gen Xers may be the last generation who only have memories of our teens and twenties.

But it's lucky for us that Lou didn't delete her status updates and is happy to admit her iPhone love.

And she knows that her cabaret's not a cabaret – could theatre be a lie!? – even with are songs, sequins, and a trackie.

Keep an eye on her; she's only going to get more awesome.

And she's totally MICF – Melbourne Independent Celebratory Feminist.


MICF: #PickUp

#PickUp
Enter Closer & Crowded

1 April 2018
Tasma Terrace
to 8 April
comedyfestival.com.au


Colin and Alia are in a polyamorous relationship and are happy to answer any questions about being poly or about sex; they've done "all the fun things", and maybe a few of the dumb things.

Rock parody, with electric ukulele and guitar, and stories about sex, from the amazing to the serious,  awkward and wonderfully hilarious. Sex IS funny; they have a song about that. And they are as damn sexy as they are funny.

They have all of my enthusiastic consent, and I learnt some new words.

As the content changes based the audience – you can text them a live question and they promise to personally answer any they miss – each night has a different vibe. Last night, they couldn't answer what type of lube is safe for heritage wallpaper, but there was a terrific conversation about being asexual.

And it's made all the better by being in Tasma Terrace in a heritage parlour that feels like we should be reading Pride and Prejudice and drinking tea; I know I'm not alone in thinking that's sexy. 

MICF: Adults Only Pirates of Penzance

Adults Only Pirates of Penzance
BK Opera
31 March 2018
Kindred Bar
to 31 March
comedyfestival.com.au

BK Opera. Adults Only Pirates of Penzance

Kate Millet and James Penn's indie company BK Opera are making themselves heard by taking opera out of traditional venues and stripping it back the intimate and personal.

MICF isn't the traditional festival for opera, even Gilbert & Sullivan, so they made their opera fit for the festival and created the Adults Only Pirates of Penzance.

I can't decide if it was the worst or the best Pirates ever (sorry ghost of Jon English). But, either way, I'll see what they do next comedy festival.

If you've been in a G& opera  – who hasn't ?– you know all the naughty jokes from The Gonnorheas to "Every, every, every, everyone is now a fairy". It's not hard to make these wholesome operettas saucy.

For this AO version, the Pirate King wears too-small hot-pink sparklie short shorts and 70s bling. Frederick squeezes into black sequinned shorts; it's no surprise he's a bottom sub. The Major General's a woman – and likes the respect she gets when she pretends to be man. The daughters flounce about in frilly corsets. The Police Sergeant is a fey French man in a beret. The female constables wear zip-up pvc and are all legs.

And Mabel's a dominatrix. That sissy little Frederick can't be a wandering one if he's tied up. BEST MABEL EVER.

But I'm not sure why.

The conceit of being adults only isn't clear. There were moments of brilliance that balanced the love of the work with gutsy character and original interpretation, but it kept getting caught in between ideas and feeling a bit like the last night at choir camp.

If you want camp repressed Pirates who don't like yucky girls, go the full Are You Being Served eating-a-Mintie walk and don't couple them up with the daughters. If it's going to be all sex, put Mabel in real leathers rather than Sexyland costume mesh and make her tie Frederick up in ways that have him singing his safe word in a genuine falsetto. Be outrageous. Bring this opera into a world that it hasn't been in.

MICF: I Get It Now

I Get It Now
Kirsty Webeck
1 April 2018
Imperial Hotel
to 22 April
comedyfestival.com.au

Kirsty Webeck

There are stand-up nights when the audience and performer click. Those shows when every joke lands (and those that don't land are even funnier), when there are in-jokes for just that crowd, and when no one checks the time and avoids eye contact with the performer. Kirsty Webek's audience had that experience last night.

It wasn't a huge crowd, but as soon as Kirsty asked us to move up to the front – and everyone happily did – we knew it was going to be a great night.

In I Get It Now, Kirsty tells stories about some of those "ohhhhhhh" moments when something suddenly makes sense and she realised what she'd misunderstood. Some are from primary school, when it's ok to believe that your teacher isn't weird (she was), but realising what you misunderstood as an adult can leave you wishing that you hadn't made the realisation. I suspect that there's an office where "in the Biblical sense" has become an ongoing office joke.

I saw Kirsty because I'd been following her on Twitter. With over 600 shows this year, it can be hard to find the ones you love. Take chances and see people and shows you don't know. See indie performers, see local performers, see people who can't advertise on a tram. They may become your new favourites.

01 April 2018

MICF: Existential Crisis

Existential Crisis
Alice Tovey, Hot Mess Productions
31 March 3018
The Tower, Malthouse Theatre
to 8 April
comedyfestival.com.aus

Alice Tovey

Alice Tovey, Ned Dixon and their band, The Apostles, are going to be rocking our music theatre and cabaret worlds for a long time to come. And they are so MICF*.

Along with Romeo is Not The Only Fruit and It's not me, it's Lou, the 20-something women are making sure that a few nights at the Malthouse this festival is compulsory.

Existential Crisis rocks with Alice out front in a tight shiny jumpsuit and her name in red sequins but it isn't as rocking as their previous work – yet.

It struggles with narrative that isn't as personal as earlier shows and starts by assuming that the audience know the people on the stage. And lyrics are getting lost in the sound mix.

The link from freaking out at 25 because you're in a loving relationship, have a supportive family and can rock a super-shiny jump suit with arm tassles to hating Peter Dutton (assuming the audience know him; ok, we despise him) feels forced. The conclusion that goes back to the beginning, and death, is much stronger. I wanted to hear more about the crisis of turning 25; more of the OTT rock opera about a struggling diva that it's wanting to be.

But it does have a song about being ready for the Zombie Apocalypse – who doesn't want to see that!

* MICF: Melbourne Indie Celebratory Feminist

31 March 2018

MICF: Virgin Bloody Mary

Virgin Bloody Mary
Nadia Collins

30 March 2018
The Butterfly Club
to 8 April
comedyfestival.com.au

Virgin Bloody Mary. Nadia Collins

Why has no one told me about this show?

Mary's white dress is complemented with a large wooden rosary and crucifix – it is Easter after all  –  and she has a sparklie halo, so we know who's already on her side.

And they have her phone number.

Without giving it away, Mary finds herself with child. The Nativity is, after all, one of the best known stories and artists have been responding to it since it was first published. I believe I played a fine Mary in my kindergarten nativity play*.

Virgin Bloody Mary is feminist, sacrilegious, smart-as, divinely-filthy, you-can't-go-there, physical clowning that earns every "OMFG!".

Maybe there is a bit of sacred in everyone? Maybe women are way cooler than religious texts describe them? Maybe it's really time to get over the whole virgin or whore thing?

I'm surprised Nadia Collins hasn't earned herself some protesters. But, we know who's on her side.

Book me in for the Christmas Eve show now. And please make sure there isn't a spare seat on Easter Sunday.

*Don't bring children to this one.


30 March 2018

MICF: Duets with Myself

Duets With Myself
Charlotte Kerr
30 March 2018
Butterfly Club
to 1 April
comedyfestival.com.au

Charlotte Kerr

There's a 5.30 slot at The Butterfly Club. It's perfect for after work or for starting early and seeing five shows a night. I'm not doing five a night, but I'll cheer on anyone who does.

It's also a great time for shows that are finding their feet and their audience. See new work. Support emerging artists. It takes time to get amazing and the only way shows get better is by getting in front of audiences.

I don't believe anyone who says they don't talk to themself. How else do you have an intelligent conversation? How else do you get the criticism that you think you deserve? No one is as mean to us as we are to ourselves.

Charlotte wants to sing with Charlotte – who wouldn't? – but Charlotte doesn't want anything to do with Charlotte because Charlotte keeps nagging her. Luckily Charlotte also listens to Charlotte – sometimes.

Charlotte Kerr also has to trust that she's fascinating enough as Charlotte and to trust that an audience want to hear her sing. The space between character and performer was a bit fuzzy, but neither needed to be worried; a quiet audience can really be enjoying themselves.

MICF: Grace

Grace
Katie Reddin-Clancy
29 March 2018
Butterfly Club
to 1 April
comedyfestival.com.au

Grace. Katie Reddin-Clancy

Alfie and Grace were a successful vaudeville double act, but Alfie has realised that it's time to be Zora, and Grace is challenged by sharing the stage with anther women instead of a man.

Katie Reddin-Clancy is from London and creates characters who work or worked at the theatre where Alfie and Grace are meant to headline. The show feels like it belongs downstairs the Butterfly Club with mirrors offering different reflections and dark corners for ghosts of forgotten shows to hide in.

Each character explores aspects of gender and mental health, and their personal stories create the world around Zora, the character we most want to meet.

There's a lot of important issues being discussed and shared, but the fascinating story about Zora, especially Grace's relationship with Zora, gets a bit lost in the discussion.

MICF: Romeo is not the only fruit

Romeo is not the only fruit
The Furies, Jean Tong & Stephanie-Bowie Liew
29 March 2018
Beckett Theatre
to 8 April
comedyfestival.com.au

Nisha Joseph, Louisa Wall, Pallavi Waghmode, Sasha Cheryllyn Chong, Margot Tanjutco

It's going to be hard to get tickets for Romeo is not the only fruit next week. So, book now. I know it's very early to call the must-see show of the festival, but if you miss this, you won't know why the rest of us are singing a song called "Fuck you".

Writer and director Jean Tong had me at the Jeanette Winterson reference.

This secures a certain section of the audience, but there's also atrocious reality tv shows (The Spinsterette), dumplings, soy sauce fish, vagina mime, more intertextual references than there are types of dumplings in Melbourne, and a chorus called the Incompetent Dead Lesbians. And sequins.

First seen – and loved – last year at the Butterfly Club as part of the Poppyseed Festival, Romeo is not the only fruit has developed in Fame-size leaps and has already been seen by more people than its first run. It proves how important small stages and and small festivals are for developing new work; shows need to be seen before they can take over the world. And it proves that seeing independent and new work at any festival sometimes gives you bragging rights of seeing first productions.

Juliet (Margot Tanjutco) lives in fairish Verona with her mother and grandmother, and has an unseen  interfering chorus of guardian angels (Nisha Joseph, Pallavi Waghmode, Sasha Cheryllyn Chong). Mum and G-Ma want Juliet to breed the next generation and encourage her to accept a nice boy, even if he can't cook rice, and to give up her dream of being a pilot and flying into the high blue. When tall, blue-eyed Darcy (Louisa Wall) moves into the street, Juliet invites her home to dinner. G-Ma welomes Darcy by offering white bread and butter (white people are unusual in Verona; "We are so not racist" may push Avenue Q's "Everyone's a little bit racist" off the top of the best-music-theatre-songs-about-racism list) but the angels don't care about the food because they know what happens in popular culture when two women fall in love...

They die. The lesbians always die.

"Why, why, why, do the lesbians always die?". (Can we please have the soundtrack album with James Gales's music and Tong's lyrics.)

This show tears open the love tropes of mainstream stories. Especially the one that difficult lovers – like queer women – are conveniently removed by death. Darcy's already lost a couple of girlfriends and the angels met their deaths by daring to be in love. One angel has a quilt remembering all the dead pop-culture lesbians – she's filled one side and the other is almost full.

Do these star-crossed lovers overcome canons of expectation? And poison?

That'd be telling.

Does Romeo is not the only fruit subvert every boring expectation of love stories to be the most joyous fuck you to everything that deserves a fuck you?

Yes.

28 March 2018

MICF: The Aspie Hour

MICF 2018
The Aspie Hour
28 March 2018
The Butterfly Club
to 5 April
comedyfestival.com.au

The Aspie Hour. Sophie Smyth and Ryan Smedley

Sophie Smyth and Ryan Smedley are recent graduates from Federation University's Arts Academy. They became friends because they are obsessed with music theatre .

Obsessed.

I dare you to tell Ryan that the 1981 version Merrily We Roll Along wasn't a hit* or find an inconsistency with Sophie's replica Dorothy costume.

I lost count of the musical references in their hour-long show. I even lost count of the Sondheim references. They put the likes of me to utter shame. I'm a mere Sondheim fan in comparison.

They are so obsessed that they've created a musical cabaret about being obsessed, going to New York (each by themself) to indulge in said-obsession (and to snog a stranger), and how being obsessed is kinda great. Ryan sings his stories, Sophie structures a musical around hers – with interval. Her "how to lose a guy" song is the one to beat for my favourite song of the festival.

Both also have Asperger's Syndrome and The Aspie Hour is also about seeing the neurotypical world though different eyes. And how to feel the world though the complex non-verbal emotional communication of people like Sondheim.

It's an absolute delight that shows how telling your story in the way you want to tell it is always the way to an audience's heart.

You don't even have to know who Sondheim is to love it.

*It wasn't.

MICF: The Music comedy festival edition

MICF 2018
comedyfestival.com.au


We're counting down to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and getting some sleep in while we can.

If you haven't picked up a paper copy of The Music's MICF edition – look at that cover! – you can read it here on issu.com.

I interviewed Tessa Waters, Laura Davis and Showko, and there are a pile of great interviews with  SM favourites like Zoe Coombs Marr, Jean Tong, DeAnne Smith and Neal Portenza. And lots of others. If the festival guide is a bit daunting – bloody terrifying – start here and get to know the performers from more than just a blurb.

Review: Abigail's Party

Abigail's Party
MTC 
22 March 2018
Southbank Theatre, The Sumner
to 21April
mtc.com.au

Katherine Tonkin, Dan Frederiksen, Pip Edwards, Benjamin Rigby, Zoe Boesen Photo by Jeff Busby

What happens when the intense character-led  naturalism of writer-director Mike Leigh meets the stylisation and aesthetic-led inspiration of director Stephen Nicolazzo? How do you queer Leigh?

Leigh's works are developed through intense improvisation and research by the actors and creative team. In some of his films, the actors don't meet each other until they the camera is there. Abigail's Party was developed over ten weeks in 1977; it was meant to be a short and forgotten season at Hamstead Theatre because Leigh had moved onto making films. (Life is Sweet is my favourite.) The short run was extended and the only reason it was subsequently made for BBC television rather than transferring to the West End was because Alison Steadman (who played central-character Beverly) and Leigh were expecting their first baby and there was no way that anyone else as going to step into the role.

Thirty-something Beverly and her husband, Laurence, are having their new younger neighbours Angela and Tony over for after-dinner drinks. Divorced single mum Susan also lives on the street and has been invited  because her teenager daughter, Abigail, is having a party. It's nice to have the neighbours around for a G&T with ice and lemon, a cheesey-pineapple nibble, and a bit of Demis Roussos on the record player.

The MTC loves a play about middle-class middle-aged suburbia and it's easy to find the connection to 1977 suburban Essex where Thatcher's conservatism is about to be welcomed and despised. Here, it's more important that your neighbours see that you're doing well, with posh beer and a new car, than actually getting to know you. Does that ever change?

Leigh's work is all about what's hidden and what we don't say to each other, even though it controls every thought and action.

It's so ready for a queer makeover and to be explored from a very different perspective.

So why does this production feel stifled?

The first thing that strikes about Anna Cordingley's design is that it looks like a Eugyeene Teh design – he designed the costumes – with it's monochromatic spaces and curtains. The central living room is magnificently orange with shag pile carpet, impossibly-large sunken steps, an over-sized room divider (which I'd love for my living room) and a magnificent array of 1970s op-shop finds. It's surrounded by three other hints of rooms that are perfect in the opening scene and sit almost begging to be used for the rest of the night. By placing the world in a box – a world best known as a boxed TV version –  the fourth wall is dropped so firmly that it's difficult to reach in and feel a part of it.

Teh's costumes are more complex. They are a redesign of the late 70s with a sequinned jumpsuit, tiny mini Cheongsam (cultural appropriation isn't new), a whiter than white suit, hide-everything black pants, facial hair that came back, hot-roller curls, and slept-in-plaits-to-get-this-amazing crimpy frizz. It's not a recreation of the time, but an idea of what it looks like through today's eyes and ideas.

As the 70s-cum-now look is turned up to wow and seen at from the outside, the performances and direction start with style and brings the characters into the aesthetic. This technique has been gloriously effective in Little Ones's works like Psycho Beach Party, Dracula and Dangerous Liaisons, but Abigail feels stuck between styles.

Behind the naturalism wall, the camped-up style seems forced with its drink spilling and slipping off couches. While it's clearly beginning to question and subvert the manners and repression of the time, it's not bringing the audience into the world and letting us see it though new eyes. It's laughing at them, not at us.

So much of what we've come to expect from this company (although it's not a Little Ones Theatre show) feels like it's been held back. It has the aesthetic without the gutsy camp structure to support it. We're at Beverly's when we expected to be at Abigail's where everything is rejected, questioned and recreated.

22 March 2018

Review: Colder

Colder
Red Stitch Actors Theatre
18 March 2018
Red Stitch
to 8 April
redstitch.net

Colder. Ben Pfeiffer, Caroline Lee, Brigid Galllacher. Photo by Teresa Noble

When Robyn turns away to look in her bag, her eight-year-old son disappears at Disneyland and the happiest place in the world becomes an unknown world of almost unimaginable fear. He's eventually found. When he's 33, David disappears again.

Lachlan Philpott's 2008 Colder reconnects the writer with director Alyson Campbell, this time at Red Stitch. They work with their creative team to let form tell story. Their The Trouble with Harry (Melbourne Festival 2014) took us into the heads of the characters with audience headphones and a design that made the hugeness of the Northcote Town Hall feel intimate. But in the intimacy of the Red Stitch space, Colder feels distanced.

Before a word is spoken, Bethany J Fellows's design takes us away from a known world. Made of planks of wood, the back wall curves into the floor, letting the characters climb but always slip. It has a retro sci-fi vibe with unknown black edges blending into the white where it's hard to hide – but everyone does.

Bronwyn Pringle's lighting completes the design and makes the small stage look and feel like the unknown universe the characters are lost in, especially as the light behind the cracks could break through at any moment. In a work that changes place and time, the lighting lets two characters dance in a dark club in a pink glow while another (in reaching distance) stands in sunlight.

We're clearly in the character's heads and there's no room for the literal.

The literal is in the text. There's a lot of literal description. Two physical narrators or the characters themselves tell us where we are, what we're seeing and what they are doing; the intimacy is broken by creating distance. The repetition and explanation of the imagery (sealing life in easy-to-find Tupperware, life isn't a parade, being 33) becomes a distraction. There's so much already showing us the connections – especially the actors – that the repetition feels obvious and cliched.

We're told what we should be seeing, thinking and feeling. This doesn't leave space to feel or connect. We're told what's happening but aren't allowed into the hearts of the characters. Perhaps that's the point – no one really knows each other and we never really connect – but it left me ... trying not to quote the title.

17 March 2018

Review: FOLA, Unknown Neighbours

Unknown Neighbours
Ranters Theatre, Creative VaQi, Theatre Works
15 March 2018
St Kilda
to 18 March
fola.com.au

Soo-Yeon Sung . Photo by Andrew Bott

Developed by Melbourne's Ranters Theatre and Seoul's Creative VaQi over four years, Unknown Neighbours is somewhere between a walking meditation and sticky-beaking in stranger's houses and a stranger's head.

Four actors, from both companies, stayed in a house when the owners were away and were left to create. The experience begins at one of the houses; you get the address when you book.

In an Acland Street house – one that no one I know could ever afford – Korean actor Soo-Yeon Sung uses a hand-help projector to Google translate her thoughts about the house, the woman who owns it and how the plants in the garden know that they are loved.

While the house is clean and decluttered enough to be ready for an open real estate inspection, it's hard to hide personality. Still, the heart of the experience is about getting to know Soo-Yeon far more than getting to know who lives there. (Our group  knew that we had the people who lived in the house with us, which made the option of snooping and discovering awkward.)

And this is only part one work.

Next, we followed the performer down one of those streets that's so old-school St Kilda that it's possible to forget just how many chain stores are now open in the malled-up part of Acland Street or that renting here is now so expensive that the groovy people have moved to the burbs. There's the Secret Life of Us exterior block, 1940's deco apartments with round windows and dark staircases, 1970's brick boxes that are hideous on the outside and gloriously huge on the inside, and slick new buildings that blend so well that you have to actively notice them. Or it's walking to the next venue. Or stomping along and feeling a bit sad because you moved to the burbs.

So much of this work is the choice to make your own story. Or listen to the people around you; the things I heard about an actor!

The four house-groups meet in the park by the adventure playground that St Kilda people know about – that's now safe and less adventury. As the sun sets, we can see buildings built in the nineteenth century, and five performers ( I don't know how they were shared among the houses) gather in front of a tent.

There's a guitar, wind chimes and a dog.

I repeat, there's a dog.

On the way back to Theatre Works – there is a lot of walking –, a little girl waves from the window of a 1970s brick box. She seems shocked that only a couple people notice her.

After a quick trip through Anglican church built in the 1850s, it's time to sit in the theatre and watch as the pieces of the last couple of hours float into place and. And the dog totally stole the show.

16 March 2018

Guest response: A Pacifist's Guide to the War on Cancer

 A Pacifist's Guide to the War on Cancer
Complicite and Malthouse Theatre

8 March 2018
Merlyn Theatre
to 18 March 2018
malthousetheatre.com.au

A Pacifist's Guide to the War on Cancer. Photo by Mark Douet

Guest writer: Andi Snelling

SM: I cried in Bryony Kimmings's  A Pacifist's Guide to the War on Cancer; felt-tears-fall-onto-my-arm cry. It's a gut-kick emotional show that has led to having some amazing personal conversations about how we create art about illness and how we respond to work about illness.

Kimmings is from the UK and is well-known, and well-loved, by Melbourne audiences having brought us Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model, Sex Idiot and Fake it 'til you make it.

It's possibly impossible not to have a personal connection to the ideas, frustration and raw emotion of the work. I started writing about my personal stories about cancer and it became very long. I'm not unique; the audience connection to the work is strong and immediate.

With a sequin-bedazzled cast, it begins as Kimmings's story about being commissioned to make art – a musical, naturally – about other peoples' illnesses. She finds a gendered mess of language, misinformation and naff fiction – that also makes me cry – and people who are so sick of being sick, and all the expectations that come along with being sick.

When Lara Veitch, who's not an actor, comes into the narratives and onto the stage, it becomes more personal and less hypothetical. And when Kimmings son gets sick, the distance between creator and topic no longer exists.

Here are Maxim's and Tim's reviews, but I want to share response by Andi Snelling. She wrote at 3.17 am.  Here's the link to her MyCause page.



AS: 3.17am has me playing that familiar Lyme game: WTF is that sensation and where is it coming from? Crawling, vibrating, squeezing sensations warming my heart area and machine gun rounds firing off in my right ear in a fireworks display of tinnitus which can be both heard and felt. My throat is dry and ticklish with the acidic taste of reflux because I broke my consume-nothing-after-8 pm rule because my granny o'clock dinner routine got interrupted by a 5 pm theatre show  A Pacifist's Guide to the War on Cancer.

The show is pacing up my mind's corridor, tearing up the carpet and ceiling of my bedroom as the blur of my sickness-dreams comes into sudden sharp focus. The show was an ambitious rabbit hole dive which I loved on paper; a (rightly so) trendy, edgy, feminist artist facing cancer bravely from within whilst fuck you-ing patriarchal power as starkly as the white medical gown we will all wear one day. But it didn't work for me on a creative level somehow. And I wonder if that even matters because it did work for me on the level which it set out to be: a guide. Even when – especially when – it reveals there is no guide.

I was moved but didn't sob as I had expected to. This does not mean anything, other than I clearly had expectations which have little use in art. I felt my own thought struggles around my illness reflected – the pressure for positivity, the brave face bullshit, the cycling of mortality fears and total "normalcy", the "it's-easier-to-pretend-it's-okay" facade, the anger at isolation, the futility of reaching out to disappearing friends, the devastation when your relationship sledgehammers your heart in its hour of need. All of that. And more. I don't even have cancer, but I do have an illness as dangerous as cancer, yet without the voice that cancer has.

And so, the show hovers with me as 4 am approaches, just as art should. A helicopter churns the sky outside and at first, I have to double-check it's really there and not inside me because it can be with Lyme. My heart, like so many nights of late, pounds away, thudding parts of my body with its palpitations, giving me the fear of death and reminding me that I am alive. In the black of the night. Just like the black of the stage.