Xavier Michelides in Future World! [FringeTIX]
Xavier Michelides @ Rhino Room – Downstairs
6:30pm, Tue 21 Feb 2012
As I wander into the Rhino Room for the first time this year, I’m struck by how quiet it is. I have a chat with Craig Egan – he’s a bit relieved that opening night is here, after weeks of running around preparing – but then it’s a matter of waiting… the start time is bumped a little, in the hopes that more people turn up. It is, after all, still pre-opening-night, and the Rhino Room is not The Garden.
Xavier Michelides pops out to the bar to address the three of us ticket-carriers – of which the other two are reviewers. I can do the show, he says, and there’s no problem – it doesn’t rely on audience interaction, but it might be uncomfortable if you’re the only people in the room. He offers us the option of another night; the other two consider it, but I reluctantly say no – I’m not sure I can see you at any other time, and I’d much rather see the show now… unless you are uncomfortable. Xavier assures us he’s fine, and we head in to the Downstairs space; at some stage the nod is given to the door guy, who softly announces “Comedians?” Suddenly, another half-dozen comedians bluster into the room, eager to catch a free show and bolstering the “crowd” to near-double-digits.
Michelides starts the show with a simple premise: we’re in a future where there’s too much work. In order to Get Stuff Done, people are brought forward in time from the past. Some of these characters are “normal” people, like our protagonist Zack and his “friend”, the ocker Brad Pitt… but most of the rest of the cast have a rather more significant historical role.
Zack meets Thomas Edison in the company cafeteria one day – Edison sounds suspiciously like Sean Connery, and is a bit of an egotistical arsehole (especially when it comes to Tesla – Topsy the elephant is mentioned a few times). But they strike up a relationship, and Edison invites Zack over for dinosaur steaks – imported from the past, he says, by The Boss.
But the sharing the existence of historical steaks is a faux pas; The Boss kills Edison using his de-quark-alator, and – unaware of Edison’s demise – Zack applies for his now-vacant position… which involves the selection of employees for dismissal, whereupon they, too, are dequarkalated, their constituent quarks used to patch up holes in the space-time metaverse. At first Zack’s job is simple – Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot are easy to “fire” with a clear conscience, but when it gets down to Marie Antoinette things are a little more dubious. To say more would be to ruin some of the fun; let’s just say that Head of Security Stephen Hawking gets involved, a battle for the integrity of the metaverse ensues, and there’s a feel-good ending.
Future World! is a fantastic show – it’s an intelligent, well-paced script, and Michelides is (frankly) spectacular in bringing all his characters to life – whether it’s the ocker Brad Pitt, the evil Boss, the ridiculous English accent of Stephen Hawking, or the one-liners from some of history’s greatest monsters, Xavier’s voices and mannerisms make them all completely unique – and even during the rapid-fire dialogue of the denouement, there’s only one small slip where the wrong voice is attached to the wrong mannerism. I had no idea who Michelides was prior to this show, but rest assured I’ll be following him in the future.