Orsino Images(!) @ Holden Street Theatres (The Arch)
5:30pm, Fri 23 Mar 2007
It’s a bleak and spitting afternoon when I dash the final few metres to the Holden Street Theatre bar, grab a snack, and kick back to read RIU and eavesdrop on conversations. One such conversation interests me, so I interject and start shooting the breeze about all manner of Fringey things with Paul Hogan, who’s associated with Scrambled Prince Theatre Company. Nice quiet chat, then it’s off to the show.
There’s very few people in – maybe a dozen punters on top of the other actors from Trouble In Mind. And it starts promisingly – Ben Whimpey (who played a nurse in that aforementioned show) plays himself and his parents through the cunning use of a video screen and a heap of quick costume changes. He outlines the premise for the show – he’s still living with his Christian parents, copping the expected marriage pressure, so he invents a fictitious fiancé to get them off his back. One lie begets another, a marriage is mooted, the house of cards gets built… until he decides he needs to get some professional help to alleviate the problem he’s created for himself.
And suddenly, the show turns from “average” to “pile of shit”. Suddenly, we’ve moved from a tightly-scripted AV-driven banter piece to a rambling, sloppy, unprofessional improv graveyard. My old mate Paul Hogan appears from backstage, balls-deep in the under-utilised Lizzie, drops her, then starts addressing the audience at will, essentially ignoring the plotline for extended periods. Initially attempting to create an audience connection via contrived local references (“Southmark” beer? oh please – though that’s indicative of the level of care put into this section of the show), he then launches into several tirades against the Advertiser reviewing team; normally, I’m on-side with any artist that wants to sledge the ‘Tiser – but sometimes you’ve just got to swallow your pride and say “nope, they’re right on the money there.” Sometimes even the Fringe Reviewers can spot a shit show and call it a shit show. And believe me, at this stage the performance was beyond shit.
The improvisational aspect of the show had the Scrambled Prince kids in the audience cracking up, which led to Hogan offhandedly talking to them from the stage – this made me feel like I was watching a high-school drama class. He dragged a couple from the audience to join Ben and Lizzie onstage, and you could see the discomfort on their faces. It was all unconvincing, very slapdash, very unprofessional, and it reeked of don’t-care-itis. Hogan, especially, looked like he’d just finished talking to me and run onstage – no wardrobe, no change in mannerisms.
The somewhat interesting first chunk of the show was completely overshadowed by the huge turd of UNPROFESSIONAL “improvisation” that followed. In fact, the only positive thing to come out of this show was the fact that I had some warm fluffy thoughts about an old Uni-crush because of the woman pulled out of the audience. Thanks, Linh – I owe you a drink for the distraction :)