Violet & Veruca @ Tandanya – Firefly
6:30pm, Wed 12 Mar 2014
I was all fired up to see Gaga v Assange this evening and, as I arrived at Arcade Lane for the performance, I thought I’d just check that the ninety minute running time was still on-the-mark (since I had an 8:30pm must-see show). The door team weren’t convincing: “Ninety minutes? Sure… closer to two hours, though.”
What? Erm… what time did last night’s show finish?
“A little after half-past-eight,” they responded.
Fuck. “Oh – sorry, I can’t see it now. Cross my name off the list, thanks.”
“Well, you’re running half-an-hour longer than expected. I’ve got another show to see.”
Door peeps seemed unconcerned: “I’m sure FringeTIX will refund your ticket…”
[No, they won’t.]
“…and there’s plenty of other shows on nearby – why not try the Tuxedo Cat?”
[Because they’re closed on Wednesdays.]
So I’ve walked away from Arcade Lane very, very annoyed. Out came the phone, cross-referenced with The Shortlist… and it’s a quick dash down to Tandanya, arriving with seconds to spare before the lights drop for HolePunch. And, as I took my seat, it suddenly struck me that – aside from the fact that it was on The Shortlist – I knew nothing about HolePunch. I didn’t even know what genre it was proposing.
A simple set – a few desks and a prominent photocopier – creates an office setting, populated by an all-female cast of four: Michelle, the officious and clueless boss; Nige, the larrikin “bloke” with a penchant for Cheezels; Ben from IT, with his accompanying sound effects and poses; and Tash the intern, ditzy in the extreme. Together they tackle the broken photocopier, with various scenes filling in the backstory of intra-office lust, Nige’s forgotten birthday, and typical power struggles.
All of this is described – of course – through song, dance, (constrained) acrobatics, and even a little bit of strip-tease. It’s all incredibly silly stuff that also happens to be spot-on, entertainment-wise: the cast are universally superb throughout, with tongues planted firmly in cheeks as they milk the laughs from the script. And Tash the intern’s sexy glue dance? Oh my… oh my. That, alone, was worth the price of admission.
Retrospectively, I’m super glad that Gaga v Assange ran long… because HolePunch turned out to be a very pleasing mix of cabaret, circus, comedy, and burlesque… and, even better, it was perfectly sized and paced. There wasn’t a single second of wasted effort in the show… and that is something that the Violet & Veruca crew could teach some of their more senior cabaret cousins.
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) March 12, 2014