Wednesday, 12 April 2017

High Achievers - Comedy Review

What: High Achievers
When: 10 - 22 April 2017
Where: Tasma Terrace
Written by: Tim Smith and Michael Symes
Directed by: Sam Russo
Performed by: Chelsea Zeller

Chelsea Zeller
High Achievers is a comedy sketch routine written by the enduring comedy writing team Tim Smith and Micheal Symes (best known for the iconic TV sketch show The Comedy Company). Part of this year's Melbourne International Comedy Festival, it is being performed by Chelsea Zeller at Tasma Terrace (a new MICF venue behind Parliament House).

Zeller has teamed up with Russo (director) to bring us a delightful hour of hilarious and well crafted characters which we can all recognise and love and thank the powers that be we are not them. It is very much a short-hand version of Joanna Murray-Smith's Bombshells although Smith and Symes have not restricted the gender of the characters in High Achievers.

Apart from the overall structure of a series of character monologues, this performance reminded me of Bombshells because the depth and detail of Zeller's charicatures is on a par with the premier performance of that play by Caroline O'Connor (for whom it was written). I know this is high praise but I feel Zeller is worthy and as a performer still in the early stages of her career, I suspect Zeller is someone to watch as her career burgeons.

The premise of High Achievers is that of a motivational change transformation seminar - the kind all professionals have come to know and loath. Lynne Purcell takes us through the three steps to manage change - the most important one being 'move on'. She did lose some credibility at the point where Gordon's inability to stack the knives in the dishwasher properly forced a hasty retreat off stage.

Four astounding high achievers came and spoke to the secrets of their success. Poppy epitomised a positive attitude to the point of inducing homicidal tendencies in the audience as she constantly asserted the refrain 'I was lucky though...'. After being chased by bears, swarms of bees and packs of wolves her 'luck' just keeps on going. Any more luck in her life and she will be dead soon.

Gerry G then came on stage to get down with his daaaawgs. After the hit song 'We're Full Mate, You Two Girls Go On In' the G made it big and on this occasion he gave a surprise performance of his new single 'I Would Like Icecream'. Penelope tells us about her life's work studying the activity patterns of the sloth, and The Fish talks about how he got to meet the Queen.

High Achievers will have you hooting and howling with laughter, all the time thinking about how much you don't want success on their terms. The show is expertly performed and it is a style of character based sketch comedy we don't see much of any more. I didn't realise how much I missed it until I saw it again. Great writing, good direction, superb acting - what more could you want? Don't miss it!

5 Stars

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