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Anne-Marie Peard

Anne-Marie Peard

Listings and reviews (23)

The Travelling Sisters: Thy Thus 'Twas

The Travelling Sisters: Thy Thus 'Twas

3 out of 5 stars

Darryl, Vinnie and Berrick have enviable mullets. The best friends are part lost-boy bogans and part wanna-be drama nerds whose passion for making Darryl’s Shakespearean masterpiece, called Thy – Thus – ‘Twas, nearly compensates for their mother-son issues and lack of talent. They are also the stars of the Travelling Sisters’s 2020 lockdown web series 'Meet the Mullets'. If you haven’t seen the series – I hadn’t – it takes a while to understand that it isn’t a sketch show but an ongoing story. Not that it makes it any less engaging, but Mullets fans in the audience were straight into the story while newcomers took some time to understand the world.  The Travelling Sisters are Lucy Fox, Ell Sachs and Laura Trenerry. They met at uni in Queensland, studied the Gaulier clown school in France and toured the UK and Europe before setting in Melbourne. Directed by Kimberly Twiner, their combination of exaggerated controlled physicality and deeply developed characters is as much a discussion of gender as it is an absurd story about misfits who have found their tribe of three. The trio work together like they should never be apart, and their wonderfully unique characters are so authentic that they transcend their own parodies. The sisters also play the boys' mothers, whose behaviours and attitudes ask and answer many questions about their respective children.  The Travelling Sisters continue to develop clowning that never settles for an easy gag and builds characters who are easy to la

Alex Hines: To Schapelle And Back

Alex Hines: To Schapelle And Back

4 out of 5 stars

To Shapelle and Back is a kaleidoscope lens reconstruction of the Australian obsession with a young woman who spent nearly 10 years in prison in Bali. Alex Hines won a pile of awards at the 2021 Melbourne Fringe for her magnificently frenetic online show Juniper Wilde: Wilde Night In. Her work is a surreal, astute and dark exploration of being in the generation who grew up in a world where being online and wearing glitter became everything. This story beings in 2005, the year after Shapelle Corby was arrested with 4.2 kg of cannabis in her boogie board bag. Hines wasn’t having a good time in high school when she saw a woman on TV who looked almost like her twin. This woman was also suffering and in the media a lot. In 2005, social media and smartphones were the future and we sucked up lies, gossip and speculation from tabloids, magazines and night-time current affair shows. There were so many stories about Corby, and along with the abundance of theories, investigations, interviews and sneaky photos, there were jokes. So many jokes about her upbringing, intelligence, looks, family, past, name and gender. The laughs were easy and even came from those who supported her. Hines has distilled the media and her personal obsession into a story about her and Shapelle being cursed double spirits who must never meet. It helps to know Corby’s story, but if, like me, you didn’t know she was recently on reality TV shows Dancing With The Stars and SAS Australia, Hines gives enough backgroun

Lou Wall: Bleep Bloop

Lou Wall: Bleep Bloop

4 out of 5 stars

Lou Wall’s had enough of making shows about depression and mental health. So, after setting the standard for online brilliance during lockdown, they are back on stage with a live pop album. An album about being gay, not being sad and embracing the pleasure of being a minor menace. Bleep Bloops are the oops, how-did-that-escalate and so-embarrassing-that-it-belongs-in-a-pop-song moments in life. While not as personal as their extraordinary 2021 That One Time I Joined the Illuminati, this new show draws on similar themes and re-visits past highlights like a new verbatim singing of a social media conversation. In a lime green shortie tracksuit with cobalt blue stripes, Lou is ready to rave and be comfortable. And despite their own bleep bloops, this is a show about being comfortable even when things are awkward. There’s a song about anti-depressants – that should be played to anyone who doesn’t understand that mental health conditions can be treated – one about their love for short kings, and an anthem that might become a theme song for many festivals: “Gays are always late”. With the kind energy and enthusiasm that’s as contagious as that damn thing that is still causing shows to cancel, Lou treats their audience like a best friend who they haven’t seen in ages. And we’re so happy to see them that singing along is easy, even when songs have layers of meaning and revelation that sneak up and remind us that being comfortable and happy isn’t as easy as it sounds in a pop song. If

Oliver Coleman: Sublime

Oliver Coleman: Sublime

4 out of 5 stars

What if Oliver Coleman were just another pale male stand-up comic? As if that would ever happen! He’s known for winning hearts and confusing souls with bad cardboard props, nonsensical plots and surreally stupid sketches. Until now. Sublime is Coleman in jeans and a nice dark-green button-up shirt in front of a black curtain with only a microphone. Really. No, of course, it’s not. I mean it is, but this stand-up is a deconstruction of stand-up that includes so many clichés of stand-up that it’s almost perfect stand-up. Except it isn’t.While many artists satirise being in an industry that’s still perceived as blokes in front of a microphone telling jokes about tits, few do it this well. Coleman understands how stand-up and stand-up characters work and why it can be so infuriating for performers to be compared to blokes standing in front of microphones. And he trusts that his audience will get it and go with his jokes about sport and not yell out that they are bored … unless they are bored. Sure, he’d rather sit around and have a chat and share his tray of Arnott’s biscuits, but he knows that audiences want relatable jokes, some forced intimacy and to film him taking down a heckler. Sublime takes so many unexpected turns that it’s hard to know what’s real, set up or joke. It could have gone so wrong, but Coleman is so in control that it hints of genius … before stumbling back to a joke about Eddie McGuire. And there’s a person in a shark suit sitting in the back row. But don’t

Diana Nguyen: Chasing Keanu Reeves

Diana Nguyen: Chasing Keanu Reeves

3 out of 5 stars

From the opening of Chasing Keanu Reeves: An Encore, Diana Nguyen feels like a close friend. By the end, she’s bonded with everyone over the universal themes of fancying Keanu and disappointing your mum, shared how hot (and hot) she is in her peach velvet jumpsuit, and convinced us that LinkedIn is the best dating app. Nguyen begins with dancing, joy and infectious cheeriness. She is frustrated that the comedy festival circuit still doesn’t represent the diversity of Australia, and that she’s only cast as Asian hospitality workers on TV, but nothing can’t distract from discussing the impact of the Melbourne lockdowns. This is an encore show – canceled in 2020, brief return in 2021 – but it’s not the one she originally created; being alone for months revealed that crushing on the spunkiness and generosity of a movie star isn’t all there is to making a show. Not that anyone in the audience doesn’t respect a healthy obsession with Keanu; there are Keanu references for those who have Keanu-fested. And Nguyen moved on to watching porn, Dr Pimple Popper and The Crown. As her mum, who escaped Vietnam on a boat and came to Australia, named Diana and her sisters after British princesses, at least one of those was necessary viewing. Her open, warm and generous performance ensures that the friendship strengthens. Once you’ve told someone about your favourite vibrator and worst date, you are bonded. And beginning to understand the impact of trauma on a family creates the kind of empathy

Oliver Coleman: Sublime

Oliver Coleman: Sublime

4 out of 5 stars

What if Oliver Coleman were just another pale male stand-up comic? As if that would ever happen! He’s known for winning hearts and confusing souls with bad cardboard props, nonsensical plots and surreally stupid sketches. Until now. Sublime is Coleman in jeans and a nice dark-green button-up shirt in front of a black curtain with only a microphone. Really. No, of course, it’s not. I mean it is, but this stand-up is a deconstruction of stand-up that includes so many clichés of stand-up that it’s almost perfect stand-up. Except it isn’t.While many artists satirise being in an industry that’s still perceived as blokes in front of a microphone telling jokes about tits, few do it this well. Coleman understands how stand-up and stand-up characters work and why it can be so infuriating for performers to be compared to blokes standing in front of microphones. And he trusts that his audience will get it and go with his jokes about sport and not yell out that they are bored … unless they are bored. Sure, he’d rather sit around and have a chat and share his tray of Arnott’s biscuits, but he knows that audiences want relatable jokes, some forced intimacy and to film him taking down a heckler. Sublime takes so many unexpected turns that it’s hard to know what’s real, set up or joke. It could have gone so wrong, but Coleman is so in control that it hints of genius … before stumbling back to a joke about Eddie McGuire. And there’s a person in a shark suit sitting in the back row. But don’t

Annie and Lena: Different Now

Annie and Lena: Different Now

Annie and Lena are moving house because they are Different Now and want a change – and they need to use all those food delivery service boxes that piled up during lockdown. As they make food delivery service jokes feel far fresher than the delivered food, Lena Moon and Annie Lumsden continue to develop their version of sketch comedy. This is their third live show, and they keep proving that the synergy of a partnership creates layers of complexity that can’t be achieved with a generic recipe. Wearing short black rompers, Annie is a bit self-involved, Lena is dealing with her ADHD need to be constantly stimulated, and both know that they are different after the last couple of years. We all are, aren’t we? More mature, reflective, and accepting of aging and things we can’t change? Yeah. Sure! Lena is at least blonde now, and Annie might even admit that she’s 32 but being locked down for a couple of years hasn’t changed much. Women in their 30s still can’t make decisions, blokes still fake incompetence to hide laziness, and no matter what you do someone will always hate you – a song that should become a performer warm-up when critics are in the audience. Seamlessly switching from sketch to stage characters, Different Now is far more than jokes about being in your 30s. It’s about being friends and balancing honesty and support, understanding that you don’t grow up when you become an adult, and asking your audience if your embarrassing life experiences are funny or depressing. Ann

Diana Nguyen: Chasing Keanu Reeves: An Encore

Diana Nguyen: Chasing Keanu Reeves: An Encore

3 out of 5 stars

From the opening of Chasing Keanu Reeves: An Encore, Diana Nguyen feels like a close friend. By the end, she’s bonded with everyone over the universal themes of fancying Keanu and disappointing your mum, shared how hot (and hot) she is in her peach velvet jumpsuit, and convinced us that LinkedIn is the best dating app. Nguyen begins with dancing, joy and infectious cheeriness. She is frustrated that the Comedy Festival still doesn’t represent the diversity of Melbourne and that she’s only cast as Asian hospitality workers on TV, but nothing can’t distract from discussing the impact of the Melbourne lockdowns. This is an encore show – canceled in 2020, brief return in 2021 – but it’s not the one she originally created; being alone for months revealed that crushing on the spunkiness and generosity of a movie star isn’t all there is to making a show. Not that anyone in the audience doesn’t respect a healthy obsession with Keanu; there are Keanu references for those who have Keanu-fested. And Nguyen moved on to watching porn, Dr Pimple Popper and The Crown. As her mum, who escaped Vietnam on a boat and came to Australia, named Diana and her sisters after British princesses, at least one of those was necessary viewing. Her open, warm and generous performance ensures that the friendship strengthens. Once you’ve told someone about your favourite vibrator and worst date, you are bonded. And beginning to understand the impact of trauma on a family creates the kind of empathy and under

Laura Davis: If This is It

Laura Davis: If This is It

4 out of 5 stars

Laura Davis left Melbourne in 2019 to live in London, but If This Is it isn’t her story about the decimation of our industry, getting stuck in New Zealand – in the woods – and watching her landlord pack up her flat on Zoom. It’s not even about being potentially cancelled if stupid people decided that the sight of her breast was offensive and corrupting. Or about an artist who continues to explore her own voice and develop new work that surprises in its originality and hurts in its complexity.Wearing black jeans, a T-shirt and a jacket, Davis appears to understate every thought as she explains why we don’t get to see her show about animals and the unexplainable beauty of coral. It might have something to do with stupid people, but blaming them would be as easy as laughing at the stupidity of an electric pepper grinder. She sounds awkward and rambling but, every – EVERY – word is vigorously crafted to tell a story that’s as much a deeply personal reflection on a 14-year career as a gut-felt unravelling about women still struggling to be listened to on stages, and in life. It hurts to laugh when you don’t know if you should laugh because the joke comes from frustration, anger and despair. But this is laughter that takes power away from the darkness, people and constructs that feed despair. So, if this IS it, laugh when it hurts, laugh when it’s awkward and laugh when you wonder if you should give up. Laura Davis is IT and more.

Tommy

Tommy

3 out of 5 stars

Victorian Opera’s Australian premiere of The Who’s Tommy was delayed three times due to lockdowns. Having finally made it, the visceral anticipation of being in one of Melbourne’s favourite music halls to hear a rock opera was met with the communal relief of remembering the joy of feeling live music in your bones.Victorian Opera continues to explode any belief that opera is dated, dull or restricted to 19th century European aesthetics. The company programs and develops complex musical works that are about connecting with audiences today and questioning the creators’ original intent.The Who released their double concept album Tommy in 1969. With its ongoing success, plus tours and concert versions, it became the record for serious listening and philosophical discussion, often while smoking something home grown and trying to lose your virginity to your favourite track (and not to the album’s song about sex abuse).Written mostly by the band’s guitarist Pete Townshend (in his early 20s), the album is about Tommy, who witnesses a murder to become a “deaf, dumb and blind kid” who’s a pinball wizard, a miracle cure sensation, a cult leader and an abandoned then redeemed messiah. All with an undercurrent of war trauma, childhood trauma; physical, sexual and emotional abuse; religious obsession; addiction; violence; and a family with so much PTSD that they couldn’t be written today because our understanding of multiple trauma would scream “stop”.It's difficult to analyse Tommy with a

Dumplings Darling: Love Without Borders

Dumplings Darling: Love Without Borders

I live alone and have spent a lot of time in my kitchen since we stopped seeing live shows. I’ve fermented kimchi, made macadamia nut vegan desserts, and done more things with lentils than I thought possible. But I haven’t made dumplings.Ania Reynolds and Alisa Tanaka-King wanted to make us all dumplings for Melbourne Fringe. They wanted a night of feasting, stories and song about the type of adorable deliciousness that’s found in almost every culture, be they momo, tamale, pastizzi or raviolo. When the festival went online, Dumplings Darling: Love Without Borders became a recorded audio taster of what their extravagant show will be, one day. But it begins with a posted black envelope (or emailed pdf) with recipe cards featuring hand-drawn pictures. These are “secret dumpling whispers” named for the holder of the recipe. Steamed, fried, baked, boiled. All look like pure-yum wrapped in dough. The audio invites you to put on your headphones and head to your kitchen. Rolling dough and chopping chives while listening to songs inspired by eating dumplings from all over the world certainly sounds like fun. All the while the show’s audio supplies you with delicious stories that come back to a question: is there a situation that cannot be made better with dumplings? Think about it. Nourishment, kindness, love, generosity. Is it even possible to feel bad when you’re eating dumplings that have been made for you? Except that I didn’t make the dumplings – I didn’t have the right types of

Little Monster

Little Monster

Indie-art lovers face our second year of an online Fringe festival and no chance of making unavoidable eye contact with a cute performer in a venue the size of a roadside-motel bathroom. When you’re watching on a screen, it’s so easy to finish a show with a “It would be so much better live”, but at the end of Telia Nevile’s Little Monster, I squealed with delight because I knew I could watch it again. Little Monster was going to be live, but this reimagined recorded version creates an unexpected and very welcome intimacy. It feels like watching Play School as a child, when there is no doubt that the presenter is talking directly to you. With this one-on-one connection, it’s easy to go through the awkward-shaped window and visit a share house full of demons.   In Dr-Seuss-perfect rhythm, Nevile calls her inner demons her little monsters and compares them to housemates like Overthink, who never leaves, and Coldsweat with their “je ne sais pas gloom”. They have their fun moments, but still eat Nevile’s biscuits, think cheap LED rope lights add charm, and make her “a new normal that’s darker and sadder and cold”. Nevile’s Poet Laureate first appeared in the late 2000s at the renowned Last Tuesday Society cabarets. Her solo shows have taken us to high school, beauty pageants and a late-night pirate radio station, but Little Monster takes us into her home. Here, she sits on a beige-cream velvet couch with olive-green nanna-floral antimacassars and cushions, placed just so. In a den