[2015151] Mr Stuart’s distant range

[2015151] Mr Stuart’s distant range

Darcy O’Shea @ Ayers House Museum – Loft

7:00pm, Thu 12 Mar 2015

There was something utterly beguiling about the précis for Mr Stuart’s distant range; it conjured ideas of deep and rarely-exposed history, and was the type of blurb that would totally suck my eighty-year-old father in (if he ever looked at the Fringe Guide with anything other than disgust). But whilst it may have been listed in the “Theatre” section of the Fringe Guide, what Darcy O’Shea delivers here is a lecture; a lecture peppered with comedic and political barbs, yes, but a lecture nonetheless.

Delivered over a slideshow of images, O’Shea introduces us to the titular John McDouall Stuart, who spent a good deal of his life exploring inland Australia. Stuart’s own diary extracts are pre-recorded (and also voiced – with Scottish accent – by O’Shea, complete with page-turning “sound effects” as he leafed through the readings), but rather than triggering each of the recordings manually via his laptop, O’Shea just left gaps for his live monologue… leading to moments where the voice of Stuart would interrupt O’Shea mid-bluster.

His topics are wide-ranging, but never stretched: whilst Stuart’s travels form the core of his material, there’s also forays into grammar (the argument surrounding the lack of apostrophe in “Ayers Rock”) and Terra Nullius. And the latter triggers a lot of political snark from O’Shea: he’s unashamedly pro-aborigine when referring to Stolen Land, and refers to white colonisation as “the first boat people” (which then resulted in more anti-Abbott snark).

O’Shea certainly knows his stuff, and is unafraid to mix the facts of history with the opinion of politics; these moments, where he would get genuinely riled up and venture off-script (only to be interrupted by one of Stuart’s diary entries) were both interesting and fun… though occasionally a little heavy-handed. As a result, the historical content of the show was anything but dry… and that made for a really engaging show.

[2015150] Luster

[2015150] Luster

Shift Ensemble @ Royal Croquet Club – Ukiyo

5:30pm, Thu 12 Mar 2015

Before turning up to Luster, I – in a seldom-initiated move – read up a little on the performance. Apparently, this was to be a circus act with a narrative… a show based on the performer’s lives when they’re not onstage. A peek behind the curtain, if you will. But with the Ukiyo somehow reeking of fish as the small audience entered this afternoon, I hoped that this was not part of the overall aesthetic of the show.

The Shift Ensemble are a young troupe; assembled through the Backstage Pass program at Flipside Circus, they’re a multidisciplinary group of (mostly female) actors, circus performers, and a dancer. And, if nothing else, they all appear to be competent performers, and display a great deal of trust in each other: despite the fact that some of the performers could only perform relatively simple (and occasionally spill-tastic) hoop routines or floor tumbles, there was never a moment’s hesitation when it came to any of the more complex balances or throws.

But the pacing of Luster is all over the place: sometimes there’s a painfully long gap between lacklustre floor routines (without even music to cover it), and other times there’s too much going on at once: half the cast created a stir-fry onstage whilst the other half performed! The show just feels too long for what it actually is… then again, a lot of other circus performances suffer from the same problem.

The final act, though, was a massive success: with all troupe members onstage at the same time, they performed collaborative ribbon & rope routines with performers taking turns in the air and on the ground. It’s a great conclusion, and it had me leaving the Ukiyo in an upbeat frame of mind.

But it’s not enough to overcome the stop-start pacing and unfocussed direction. And… Luster? Really? Why the US-centric spelling?

[2015149] Rip, Drag & Ruminate

[2015149] Rip, Drag & Ruminate

Graduating Dancers of Adelaide College of the Arts 2015 @ Adelaide College of the Arts – Main Theatre

2:00pm, Thu 12 Mar 2015

I walked into the third of my Rip, Drag & Ruminate experiences (after 2013 and 2014) with patchy expectations: previous graduating classes have provided some memorable highlights amidst some more forgettable material.

And the first piece, Patches of Society, succinctly summarises all my R,D&R experiences in one twenty-minute blast. Split into three distinct sections (musically – but apparently not thematically – linked), it opens with a more theatrical movement that introduces a series of characters via voiceover, and attempts to break the fourth wall by pulling one performer – introduced as “Paul” – from the audience. Jim is a narcissistic tennis-playing stereotype; Sally – now ex-Paul – is Facebook-popular but lonely.

The opening feels fractured, broken… and the voiceover annoyed the shit out of me (“oblivious by the fact” it said when introducing The Pink Man, raising my hackles). There’s constant references to Sally’s previous relationship to Paul, to her privacy settings, et cetera, in a Facebook-centric narrative that aims to examine the role of social media in modern society. Movement was fine, with some genuinely exciting bits, though irregular placements of dancers during the third section had me wondering about the focus of the choreography. But the lighting of the performance space seemed to be an afterthought – dancers were often caught in awkward shadows, especially at the edge of the stage… and the use of live cameras to project aspects onto a screen was distracting.

The second piece, personwhowatches toomuchtelevision, fared much better. There’s lots of sliding and climbing and crawling over a malleable set, with focus more on theme than narrative. Great use of lighting – especially using old television sets as a source – and lithe performances really made this work.

Again, Rip, Drag & Ruminate provided a patchy experience… but the second half of the show was genuinely interesting, quality dance.

[2015147] The New Cabal

[2015147] The New Cabal

The New Cabal @ La Bohème

10:00pm 9:30pm, Wed 11 Mar 2015

As I had scurried towards La Bohème, I remember checking my watch: I was just around the corner, with three minutes to go before the scheduled start time of The New Cabal (who have a semi-regular Wednesday-night gig at La B). I eased my scurry into a walk; but, as I turned the corner onto Grote Street, I could hear music spilling out of the club… they’d started early. It’s only later that I discover that the group had decided on a 9:30pm kickoff to maximise their time with their special guests: Kenneth Salters on drums and James Muller (no relation) on guitar.

La Bohème was near capacity, and it was only after the first set finished that I managed to find a comfortable spot to watch the performance. Lyndon Gray still leads the group on double bass, with Chris Martin on keys, and Chris Soole a crowd favourite on sax; far from being the smoky jazz I’ve come to expect from The New Cabal, the first set had a very bluesy feel, mainly due to Muller’s guitar work. Salters was also prominent early, plunging into a fantastic drum solo that
didn’t want to end; he almost seemed resentful when the others played over him. His dominant use of sticks, rather than brushes, also changed the feel of the group a bit.

Barely anyone left whilst the boys took a breather, and the second set kicked off with a familiar sounding Cabal piece (Solar?). As they shifted into longer jazzy pieces, Salters would drop short drum solos into proceedings; the closing number was utterly brilliant, Salters underpinning the entire piece between final solos… before a great blues breakdown teased us before petering out into a soft climax.

I am so glad that I caught this gig; whilst I’ve enjoyed The New Cabal’s work in the past, the addition of the amazing Kenneth Salters on drums was a masterstroke. Whilst that pushed the music more towards blues, rather than jazz, it was still an awesome collection of tunes that had everyone in La Bohème – even those that were uncomfortably standing – tapping their feet and hooting in appreciation.

[2015145] Nick Nemeroff – You’re All Dumb Idiots

[2015145] Nick Nemeroff – You’re All Dumb Idiots

Nick Nemeroff @ Producers Nook

7:15pm, Wed 11 Mar 2015

Nick Nemeroff leapt into Must-See Scheduling after I encountered him in the Lunatics Beer Garden… and it turns out that my earlier experience was indicative of his full show.

It’s not Nemeroff’s jokes that are worth the effort… it’s all in the telling. I’ve never seen any comic tease a joke out so much that it’s almost painful – he makes Stewart Lee appear rapid-fire in comparison. His delivery is quiet, flat, and so restrained that the audience has the opportunity to fill in a punchline – nay, a dozen punchlines – before Nemeroff himself decides how the joke will end… and his decision is often completely unexpected and hilarious.

Seriously, You’re All Dumb Idiots is hard work for the audience… but it’s more-than-rewarding. Nick Nemeroff may only say one-tenth the number of words that other comedians would produce in the same timeframe, but the end result is about a hundred times funnier.

[2015144] Professor Mounteforte D. Hamsalami in ‘Life Science! a Career Retrospective’

[2015144] Professor Mounteforte D. Hamsalami in ‘Life Science! a Career Retrospective’

Duncan Turner @ The Crown and Anchor Hotel

6:00pm, Wed 11 Mar 2015

Well, that was an experience.

In front of a surprisingly large (and generously exuberant) crowd, a local “Dean of Life Sciences” introduced character Mounteforte D. Hamsalami (played with eccentric aplomb by Duncan Turner) as a professor embarking on a lecture tour. Hamsalami is certainly confident – he’s constantly talking down to the (in his eyes) intellectually-inferior audience – as he talks up his own academic achievements.

But it becomes clear that his career is a bit of a sham. From simple beginnings as a door-to-door salesman, through a stint as a laughably dangerous children’s science entertainer (The Curiosity Show this was not), we see him bottom-out underneath a literal pile of lawsuits. But, having been gifted an opportunity in the Department of Life Sciences at a local university, he finds himself lecturing to us… about intelligent design.

His ideas become rapidly more preposterous… and when he introduces the Mounteforte Principle – which proposed that the relationship between man and apes was “intimate” – Ross Voss stands up amidst the crowd, yells “He’s a fraud!”, and chucks a lettuce at Hamsalami, bringing the show lecture to a close.

Duncan Turner’s character is stupidly good fun, and his presence onstage was suitably stuffy and aloof; but his accompanying video footage was nothing less than fantastic. The “candid” snapshots & footage of Hamsalami’s life were great, but his bizarre TV shows were pants-wettingly brilliant: Oughtn’t I Should was a great bit of kiddy edutainment, but the Cosmos knockoff that Hamsalami produced for the Russian market was incredible – the crass sudden end, with an immature sitting-on-the-toilet shot, had me in tears.

I absolutely loved Mounteforte D. Hamsalami’s Career Retrospective – it was a perfectly weighted chunk of (occasionally crude) silliness that absolutely hit the spot, with production values that far outclassed the room in which they were presented. I can only hope that this extraordinary character presents more of his incredible life at a later date.

[2015143] Gary Portenza: Apologies in Advance

[2015143] Gary Portenza: Apologies in Advance

Dr. Professor Neal Portenza @ Tuxedo Cat – Rivers Studio

9:45pm, Tue 10 Mar 2015

A pleasing crowd had turned up for this, the opening night of Apologies in Advance; as we enter the Rivers Studio, Gary Portenza (yet another of Josh Ladgrove’s family of Portenza characters) is onstage with a guitar. “Do you like Pink Floyd?” he asked, his tight thin-lipped smile seething resentment. “You don’t now.”

With the door closed, Gary put the guitar away and announced that his twin brother, Neal, was dead. Those words were accompanied with the closest thing to “joy” that Gary expressed all night; he revels in being a darker, more malicious character. We were to be present for Neal’s funeral; Gary was going to be conducting it.

So we’re treated to a collection of Neal’s life highlights, including readings from some of his failed scripts. There’s snarky asides from Gary to his tech, Nathan. There’s even snarkier glares and taunts from Gary to the crowd, with the ever-present threat that he may engage the audience in a more significant manner. And there’s plenty of complaints about the blood left on the stage floor by Zoe Coombs Marr (leading to an impromptu mopping).

And, just when you think you’re safe, Ladgrove rolls his eyes back in his head to become a genuinely unsettling Psychopathic Gary, all bile and venom.

Oh, and I think that there was an inexplicable human-sized cockroach that wandered through the room. My memory may be failing me, though.

Being opening night, it was a rough-as-guts performance: readings fluffed, lighting cues missed (leading to more death glares from Gary to Nathan). But Gary Portenza leaves you in no doubt of the intent of the show. Where his brother Neal may lure the unsuspecting punter in and then surprise – and perhaps even alarm – them with the extent of their expected interaction, Gary is clearly there to unsettle and scare: I was never really sure where he was going. And it’s genuinely nerve-wracking fun.

[2015142] RAW Comedy Winner 2007 Jonathan Schuster presents I Won RAW Comedy In 2007.

[2015142] RAW Comedy Winner 2007 Jonathan Schuster presents I Won RAW Comedy In 2007.

Jonathan Schuster @ Producers Cranny

8:45pm, Tue 10 Mar 2015

I knew nothing about Jonathan Schuster… but I love the title of this show. I love it so much that it made the “Must See” section of The Schedule. But alas, there was only four people in the audience this evening: myself, Alice Fraser, Sam Petersen (from Dave Warneke Dates The Entire Audience), and one other guy.

But Schuster – with a style that could only charitably be called “casual” – still managed to conjure so much laughter that the room felt full.

To say that Schuster is self-effacing would be quite the understatement; it’s like the only scrap of self-belief he has is that he can take the piss out of himself. There was one aside where he quizzed the audience (all four of us) about our favourite movies, but my responses – Betty Blue, then Grosse Pointe Blank – both drew blank looks from everyone else in the room. The first one I could understand, but GPB? That’s a stone-cold Cusack classic, you heathens.

The highlight of the show was, undoubtedly, the rambling autobiographical tale that described – in almost tortuous fashion – the events that resulted in Schuster tasting his own semen. It’s a decent story, but the manner in which Schuster teased it out was amazing.

I loved I Won RAW Comedy: Jonathan Schuster’s style is so relaxed that he might as well be sitting in the audience. In fact, I think he did sit with us for awhile. Apart from the fact that he barely mentioned the titular RAW Comedy competition, the only disappointment with this show is that there wasn’t a decent crowd: I’m certain Schuster didn’t make enough money to cover his room hire, and I can’t imagine that would encourage him back to Adelaide. And that’s a shame, because I’d love to see him again.

[2015141] Sarah Bennetto’s Funeral

[2015141] Sarah Bennetto’s Funeral

Sarah Bennetto @ Producers Warehouse

7:30pm, Tue 10 Mar 2015

I’d seen Sarah Bennetto as part of a line-up at several previous shows, but her solo shows were an unknown quantity to me… but a convenient run of shows sees her Funeral slotted in.

And Bennetto, charming and friendly and personable onstage, immediately connects with me via tales of growing up in Swan Hill… small country townsfolk tend to recognise these things. But then she presents the premise for the show: afraid of her mother’s influence on her funereal playlist, Bennetto has decided to oversee her own funeral… to make sure it’s done right.

Thus, she dons the personae of a nun, and proceeds to conduct her own funeral. Bennetto’s friends and loved ones are introduced, and there’s a few sketchy impersonations (Owen Wilson??!?) talking up her life’s achievements… but there’s also a few jokes at her own expense, too. There’s also some jibes at the low turnout for the show funeral, and I’m feeling OK about the show. I’m not hating it, anyway.

But then I’m summoned up onstage and given a script to read out. I am, apparently, one of Bennett’s friends, delivering a eulogy: “I loved her,” it begins, before continuing on with descriptions of what a great comedian she was, and (deep breath) how I desperately wanted to “bone” her.

And something about that scriptlet really didn’t sit well with me. I hated that word… “bone”. It’s a cop-out, it’s a lack of commitment, it’s just fucking wrong. Well, that’s how I felt at the time… writing about it now, I’m wondering why I was knocked so off-course by that bit of stage-time.

And I never really recovered from that. I distinctly remember sitting back down and wishing that the show was over. And, when it was, I remember trudging out of the Warehouse, disappointed. All because of a bit of stage time, which I’ve handled with good grace before.

I don’t know why I didn’t get on with Sarah Bennetto’s Funeral. Bennetto herself is lovely – a really bright presence onstage, and her timing is spot on. Her material, though, really rubbed me the wrong way this evening.

[2015140] Dave Bloustien: The Tinder Profile of Dorian Gray

[2015140] Dave Bloustien: The Tinder Profile of Dorian Gray

Dave Bloustien @ Producers Warehouse

6:20pm, Tue 10 Mar 2015

After witnessing Dave Bloustien’s solid cold reading in White Rabbit Red Rabbit, and hearing him generate solid laughs from his STI scare story in Darkness and Light, I figured that the least I could do would be to support him at his own show. Sadly, there’s only a handful of other people who’ve turned out, and the Warehouse is not a super-supportive venue with a small crowd.

The Tinder Profile of Dorian Gray deals, in large part, with the emotional turmoil of middle-aged divorce. Bloustien describes the disintegration of his marriage and the resultant impact on his daughter with honesty and – surprisingly – warmth; there’s no conflict sought with his ex-partner, which feels refreshing onstage (and, strangely enough, familiar to me). But heartstrings are tugged when he talks of the impact of his job on his daughter… but there’s always joy to be found, too, as Bloustien lights up when he talks about Skyping with her whilst on road-trips.

Thrust back into singledom, Bloustien also reflects on middle-aged modern dating – leading to a repeat performance of the STI story, which totally stood up. Bloustien also discovered that he has an ability to write female-friendly porn – his strawberry shortcake sample was amazing – and he injected a few tweets from his “ohrotica” nom de plume between stories throughout the show. Despite all the grief that a show about relationship breakdowns and broken hearts and loneliness may evoke, there’s a beautiful upbeat denouement… and I was left with the feeling that everything was going to be alright.

In all fairness, The Tinder Profile of Dorian Gray is less comedy and more autobiographical storytelling… but Bloustien’s narrative chops are excellent, and his pacing is impeccable. When the laughs do hit, they hit hard; and, perhaps most importantly of all, he takes some of the fear out of middle-aged relationship turmoils.

[2015139] Dan Lees: Brainchild

[2015139] Dan Lees: Brainchild

Dan Lees @ Tuxedo Cat – The Coffee Pot

8:30pm, Mon 9 Mar 2015

It all starts so… normally: Dan Lees takes to the tiny Coffee Pot stage, looking charmingly eccentric and sounding soothingly British. He starts juggling character-filled hats and wigs (a la plate spinning). Something about the surety of his actions makes me immediately think that he’s not just a comedian, but also a(nother) Gaulier-trained clown.

A sudden costume change, and Lees is The Pope. Or rather, a Pope. A Pope that loves cheese. A cheese-loving Pope that loves booze more than cheese.

I’m mystified… but I’m also laughing my arse off.

I’m still laughing when I’m dragged up onstage, while Lees takes my seat. As an loud, blustering, and utterly unintelligible army stereotype, he coaches me through my role. I’m still laughing. Everyone else in the room is laughing, too.

Another costume change sees Lees as a cowboy. He’s lonely; his only friend is a fish. His fish, Alfie, is an aspiring comic, too. Lees’ cowboy sets him on a speaker, adjusts the mike stand, and leaves him to it. Alfie gets some courtesy laughs, but thenceforth bombs.

Dan Lees, though, most certainly does not bomb. In retrospect, I’m utterly ashamed that I didn’t schedule Dan Lees earlier in the Fringe… because I would have been singing (nay, screaming) his name from the rooftops in order to encourage people to go see him. His absurdist comedy is gentle enough to be universally approachable, but odd enough to be uproariously funny; Lees’ characters are completely barmy (without being abstract to the point of nonsense), his audience manipulation a joy to behold (and be part of), and he’s a totally lovely guy… Brainchild was one of the discoveries of the Fringe for me.

[2015138] Dave Warneke Dates The Entire Audience

[2015138] Dave Warneke Dates The Entire Audience

Dave Warneke & Sam Petersen @ Tuxedo Cat – The Coffee Pot

7:15pm, Mon 9 Mar 2015

After inadvertently meeting Dave Warneke at a Festival Fishbowl, I’ve been squeezing in his Facty Fact show whenever I can (in 2013 and 2014, anyway). And whilst I’m no longer in the dating market (sorry all!), the opportunity to be in an audience that Dave wanted to date – on my birthday, no less – was too good to miss.

The premise of the show is that Warneke wants to take the audience – the entire audience, as a holistic entity – out on a date. A hackneyed dinner-and-a-movie date, yes, but he’s anxious for it to go as well as possible. As seems to be Warneke’s wont, there’s a heavy leaning on technology in the performance… not only in the requisite PowerPoint presentation, but also in the web-based voting mechanism. Yes, the audience was actually encouraged to use their phones during the show to vote for different date proposals; this was a clever mechanism, allowing people to engage and vote freely without fear of public reprisals.

The first vote was to select a name for the audience as a group, and whilst I was proud to see my suggestion of “Trevor” get shortlisted, it was eventually out-polled by “Dumbledore’s Army”. Thus, Dave took Dumbledore’s Army out on a date to (vote) see Titanic, followed by dinner at (vote) Thai Tanic (reviews of which were fantastically awful). Eventually, it was declared that (vote) Dumbledore’s Army did, indeed, enjoy the date with Warneke, and he wished us well and hoped we could go on another date sometime.

Sam Petersen was constantly in the background, needling Warneke from behind his laptop as he collated the results of audience votes. His input frequently slid into complaints about technology, but his cutting analysis of the voting tendencies was hilarious. There’s also a few other asides: a brilliant game of Is It Porn? and an incredibly lo-fi backyard remake of Titanic were the highlights.

Dave Warneke Dates The Entire Audience wound up being a thoroughly satisfying show. Whilst it’s not a gut-busting laugh-a-minute type of production, the implicit social commentary exposed by the audience participation gave it a little more lasting impact than I’d expected… and the act of voting itself generates immediate audience buy-in. The fact that Warneke’s charming nerdishness plays well with Petersen’s more acid tongue is just icing on the cake.

[2015137] A Bit of an Overshare

[2015137] A Bit of an Overshare

Claire Healy @ La Bohème – Upstairs

5:00pm, Mon 9 Mar 2015

My first encounter with Claire Healy was pleasant enough, and I’d heard rumours that A Bit of an Overshare was a bit good… so up the stairs at La B I trotted, to find Healy sitting at the keyboard, tinkling keys and chatting airily with the small audience as we arrived.

Healy proves to be a thoroughly entertaining (and expressive) host. She plays (and sings) a collection of original – and funny – songs, and her chit-chat in-between songs is impeccably presented. There’s pieces on Facebook, potatoes (again), and even her goldfish; and as a self-confessed over-sharer, there’s plenty of material about her partners… and even a few (perhaps inappropriate, but certainly titillating) boudoir secrets. However, some of the material shows its overseas origins: while her Brit-centric bitching about the Royal Family was amusing enough, it would have had far more impact back in the UK.

But the show faltered when Healy turned her attention to the audience. She assured us that she’s not a threat, but that seemed to encourage the quizzed audients to be even more reluctant than usual to participate… and Healy didn’t seem to be able to cajole any engagement (even with Choc Wheaten bribery). The resultant laugh-free zones were very noticeable and, though Healy eventually got things going again with more quirky songs, the show was sapped of some momentum.

A Bit of an Overshare proved to be entertaining… but I couldn’t help but leave La Bohème a teensy bit disappointed. Don’t get me wrong – Claire Healy most certainly can play, her singing is bright and bubbly, and she has her comic timing down pat. But her choice of material, and scratchy interactions with the audience, let her down on this occasion.

[2015136] ODDBALL

[2015136] ODDBALL

Dado @ Gluttony – La Petite Grande

3:45pm, Mon 9 Mar 2015

Dado’s been coming to Adelaide for years: he’s an expected fixture at Gluttony now, with his Doorway Cabaret garnering larger crowds every year. But – apart from glancing at the Doorway as I ran past – I’d never actually seen any of his shows; I figured this year was the time to rectify that.

La Petite Grande was absolutely choc-a-bloc, with kids outnumbering adults by about three-to-two, and there were plenty of grumpy faces on the adults as they jostled for the best positions for their precious little snowflakes. But when Dado took to the stage, hunchbacked in a trench-coat with a suitcase full of promise, many of the children perched down the front were wary to the point of muteness; it took a lot of quickly (and expertly) made balloon animals to get them onside. But once he’d braved the storm of the initially reluctant children, Dado was free to engage them almost at will. He’d drag them centre-stage to bamboozle them with ball and balloon magic (resulting in some adorable moments of kiddy confusion), and even the more challenging (and free-spirited) kids were kept well under control.

It’s a largely mute performance (except when repeated “technical difficulties” required a soft, explanatory squeak) backed by music and sound effects summoned from an iPad, with light magic and buffoon-ish clowning the mainstay of his act. Dado doesn’t forget the adults, either, with the occasional risqué aside… but Dado’s universal charm is the real star of the show. Even the repeated mopping of his brow (it was bloody steamy in there!) was performed in an utterly endearing way; the relaxed, low-pressure hawking of additional souvenirs upon exit was also wonderfully managed. Dado proved himself to be a true gentle giant of clowning.

[2015135] Strangely Flamboyant

[2015135] Strangely Flamboyant

Strangely & Claire Healy @ Royal Croquet Club – The Rastelli

1:30pm, Mon 9 Mar 2015

Strangely’s Roaring Accordion had been a very odd experience: a handful of spectators didn’t really help a show that seemed geared towards raucous audience participation. But Strangely himself had proven to be a lovely chap, and – in my own way – I wanted to support him where I could. Thus, I found myself in a surprisingly full Rastelli on a sticky holiday Monday afternoon, with a ragtag assortment of other punters… including a collection of clearly inebriated (but still happy) silver-topped women.

Strangely – tall and gruffly beardy – cuts an awkward contrast to the shorter, enthusiastically wide-eyed, and cuter Claire Healy, but they totally work as a duo. There’s a tangible comfort between the pair, and that extends out to the audience, as they made us feel completely at ease with their musical silliness and light-hearted banter. Their songs wallow in the absurd: Healy’s ukulele and Strangely’s accordion and foot bells are an odd basis for any musical number, but The Potato Song somehow tied it all together, and the few bits of audience participation were thoughtfully arranged.

Sure, there were a few problems with the show – Claire’s vocals were frequently drowned out, and the pissed silver-tops intruded a little too often in proceedings. But the pairing of Healy and Strangely handled it all with an easy, airy grace, leaving me with the feeling that they’d be the most easygoing party hosts ever. And the closer – a medley of Let It Go and Don’t Stop Believin’ – was indicative of the entire show: positive, gleeful, and silly.

Strangely Flamboyant proved to be a quirky, friendly, and super-pleasant bit of cabaret that worked well in a matinée timeslot. And, more importantly, it had two utterly nice people onstage that you just wanted to hang out with… and that’s kinda what this show felt like: the chillest kind of hang-time with some cool friends.