Pirate Rhapsody, Mermaid Requiem [FringeTIX]
Better Bradley Productions @ The Spare Room
9:30pm, Tue 15 Feb 2011
As the thirty-odd punters (perhaps lured in by $10 Rush Tix) filter into The Spare Room this evening, the cast are already positioned onstage – Tommy Bradson, wooden-legged and eye-patched pirate, grimaces at the crowd; his accompanists, perched behind their cello and keyboards with their swabbie-ish striped shirts, look perfectly bored. The throng settled, they launch into song – after which, in the middle of his first rant, Bradson removes the stunt-leg.
A few more rants (mostly about women – and his genitals), a few more songs (mostly about his genitals – and women), and he storms out of the venue; a little video interlude shows his Pirate self talking to his Mermaid self in the dressing room. The video over, the Mermaid – literally – tumbles back into the room and, with members of the crowd roped in to spray her down (“your air here is so dry“, she complains) and hold up lanterns like makeshift lighters, she completes the performance with a chat / song rhythm.
Bradson’s cabaret-esque skills are, it must be said, impeccable. He can hit the notes cleanly, or dirty them down to a growl; combined with the glorious notes from the cello, and the sterling piano support, the songs are a highlight of the show – occasionally filthy in content, yes, but a good laugh… and, in the case of the opening number, a confusing clap-along test for the audience.
But in the spoken word interludes between songs, Bradson’s Pirate’s delivery is two paced; stage-wandering rants topple into rapid-fire torrents of words, tripping over themselves and almost becoming indiscernible through the accent and the occasional emphatic yelps that fire off my tinnitus. His Mermaid, on the other hand, is slower, more contemplative – and more emotionally fragile.
I loved that whole stream-of-consciousness style exuded by the Pirate, even if he did seem to focus on his own cock a bit much; the challenge of following his diction and metaphors reaped rich rewards. Whilst the Mermaid didn’t have the same compelling delivery, she did provide one of the highlights of the night during an audience interaction bit, where she struggled to get her mark to repeat “yes, it is” – until he landed a comedic knockout blow that had both Bradson and his musical swabbies cracking up in laughter.
Pirate Rhapsody, Mermaid Requiem was a solid bit of Fringe cabaret; as mentioned before, Bradson has a fantastic voice and cutting tongue, and Johanna Ng’s keys and Sophie Radke’s gorgeous cello made this a musical feast. Sure, the bits between songs didn’t always hold up the same high standards, but they don’t negate the quality of the songs.