Everything Must Go [FringeTIX]
Rachel Leary @ The Tuxedo Cat – Green Room
6:00pm, Thu 23 Feb 2012
It’s my first visit to any of the TuxCat’s performance spaces, and there’s a bit of confusion: signs haven’t been put up yet (a problem that has since been fixed), so it’s a bit of an aimless wander until I find the Green Room. And I’m a bit surprised to find that the room – which looks like it’ll only seat thirty – is pretty full; still, I find a seat in the front row and eye the stage.
It takes a fair bit of eying, mind you, because it’s littered with all sorts of crap. The bold price tags that adorn the collection of garden gnomes, awful homemade necklaces, and electrical household relics are laughable and seemingly arbitrary. But when Rachel Leary, in her role as Nancy Browne, potters onto the stage fussing with the items in her garage sale, you know this is not going to be a normal comedy show.
And that’s because… well, not a lot of Everything Must Go is funny.
Sure, there’s some genuinely funny bits: her meditation tapes (free with the cassette radio… for $50) are absolute crackers, with the frogs from Down By The Pond, the fucked-up ute from By The Barn, and the doppler-shifted “get off the fucking road” from By The Road. The goat-poo guessing game borders on the bizarre. The occasional references to the Thursday night Stitch’n’Bitch are perfectly pitched, especially if you grew up in a country town where such “social” activities are an immovable part of life. And Nancy’s game of Get Harold In The Bucket is silly good fun.
But there’s a very bittersweet undercurrent throughout the entire performance – there’s something clearly wrong with Nancy, intimated through her odd interactions with the other people surrounding her country enclave in Tasmania. She’s being displaced through a residential development of her sleepy community – forced to downsize and move in with her brother (hence the garage sale), she’s again snubbed and pushed onto the mainland; idiosyncratic and alone, I even felt bad for her when she passed some lamington slices around the room (and had precious few takers).
When Nancy Browne mentions the hay bales collapsing on her as a youngster, you can’t help but think that the event was responsible for her mental… quirks; when the phone rings (and she eventually answers), you just know it’s going to be another life-changing event that she just accepts. And that’s the overriding tone of Everything Must Go… the dominant mood was of sad, silent tragedy, of a life not so much lived as tolerated.
The ending is… well, apt. Almost feel-good, even. But it’s hard to see what Everything Must Go is trying to say; it’s too muted and morose for a comedy piece, and not cohesive enough for a solid piece of theatre. Rachel Leary may have created a convincing character in Nancy Browne, but I’m not sure I know why her story needed to be told.
And, once again, it was a performance marred by the two women sitting next to me in the front row, who gladly gave a running commentary throughout the entire performance, like they were recording the special extras for a DVD. I’ve got no idea what kind of show they were expecting, but I’ve got even less of an idea what type of show accepts their kind of behaviour as permissible.