Be Your Age Or Bust [FringeTIX]
The Royal Adelaide University Old Footlighters Club @ Holden Street Theatres – The Studio
7:30pm, Fri 19 Feb 2010
“Blimey, Pete!” I hear absolutely no-one say, “this is a bit of a different pick to your usual fare. A university revue show? What’s up with that? Come on, be honest – you’re just padding out your show count, aren’t you?”
To which I would respond (if I had any cause to, which I don’t, because no-one actually has asked – nor ever will ask – the above question): “Piss off. And no. In that order.”
The fact of the matter is that Be Your Age Or Bust made The Shortlist because… well, I’d never seen a revue-style show in the flesh before. And, with my dogmatic insistence that I not be in the City on Fringe opening night, it just happened to slot nicely into the Schedule.
The other determining factor is that, as I grow older, I feel more and more attached to my alma mater. I don’t know why, exactly – it’s not as though I had endless good times there, making lifelong friends and learning Important Stuff like all those Animal House and Revenge of the Nerds documentaries suggest; it just feels… I dunno, close. A source of comfort. Plus, one of my favourite places in Adelaide is Wills Court. And I love the old BSL reading room.
But none of that has anything to do with the show. So let’s get on with that, yes?
As you might have guessed by now, Be Your Age Or Bust is a good old-fashioned University revue show. There’s lots of little skits, political digs, enthusiastic singing and dancing, and tiny humour-filled barbs directed at our affluent society. The most pointed pieces were directed at the current University of Adelaide administration (who are proposing knocking down Union Hall to build a research facility – boooo) and our current Premier – doubly funny, given former Premier John Bannon was a member of the cast.
“Letters to the Editor Men” was a cracking song & dance routine, demonstrating an elegance of language that current musical humorists would do well to take lessons from. In fact, the songsmithery as a whole was wonderful, as were the “Superheroes At Rest” and “Leafy Suburbs Forum” bits. In fact, the only one of the 36(!) skits that fell flat was the ill-advised “Air Orchestra”… but the percussive brilliance of the Plumber’s Song (complete with a hose-and-funnel “trumpet” solo) more than made up for that little bump.
As mentioned before, John Bannon was a real surprise in the cast – but the real standouts for me were Mark Coleman (transitioning between the poncy East-suburban dinner party nerd to the young-and-dumb car-hunter with ease) and, of course, one of my childhood heroes: Rob Morrison. 85-year-old Jeff Scott was awesome, too – though the voice might be a bit fragile now, he’s still got impeccable timing.
I was surprised – really pleasantly surprised – by the number of people who turned up to this performance. They’ve had near sell-out shows for the entire season now, which is (a) charming, (2) wonderful, and (iii) slightly weird. Because, even days away from my 39th birthday, I was the youngest person in the audience – by far. And there’s something really lovely about the idea that there’s other people out there who are so attached to their alma mater too, and that the word-of-mouth and impetuous night-out thing still exists well into middle age; that Twitter and e-mail aren’t the be-all and end-all of buzz.
I left this show grinning like a loon, and you can’t ask for much more than that, really. Bravo, Old Footlighters :)