Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Dudebox - Cabaret Review

What: Dudebox
When: 26 - 28 September 2018
Where: Ballroom, The Lithuanian Club
Created and performed by: Beau Heartbreaker, Becky Lou, Lily Fish, Po Po Mo Co, The Travelling Sisters, et al
Beau Heartbreaker
Dudebox is a fun celebration of feminist comedy surrounding the concept of 'the dude'. Playing at The Lithuanian Club as part of this years Melbourne Fringe Festival, a group of like minded comediennes bring us a frolicking gallery of masculinity which will have you laughing from beginning to end.

Not the most technically perfect show you've ever seen, Dudebox is incredibly rich in ideas with a barrel full of gender commentary and feminist question marks which will give you something to think about once all the laughter subsides. Investigating issues around masculinity and femininity, this cohort of comic and clowning colleagues take us on a wild ride which will leave you amused, bemused, bedazzled, and with a feisty pep in your step.

The Travelling Sisters kick it all off by having Darryl, Berwick, and Vince greet the audience. I think there might have been a spark between Vince and I...just saying ;)

The show began with probably the weakest skit of the night with a tribute to Hanson's 'MMMBop'. It is timely because a video has recently been doing the Facebook rounds of Hanson doing a sit down version - revisiting past glories. The skit references their original video and for those of us who remember it, it is really funny, but I am not sure if it will read more generally.

Also, it is lip synced and the syncing is atrocious. My pet peeve though (and this happens in nearly every show I see with lip syncing in Melbourne) is that the music was too soft. Why don't performers understand that for lip syncing the music has to be loud to work? If it isn't, the whole thing just fizzles into looking like a fish out of water gasping for air.

Things improved mightily from there though. Beau Heartbreaker came out and sang to us about the joys of holidaying in caravan parks. I really don't think I will be doing that any time soon.

In an ensemble skit of the finest calibre, perhaps my favourite performance of the night was the hen's party sketch. Fish questions the feminist dialogue around marriage with penis glasses on, and a fireman stripper comes out eventually revealing a chiseled 6-pack and a crop top stating 'I am a feminist'. There is so much more to this fantastic sketch but you have to go to see it. I am not giving any spoilers.

There were more fantastic moments including the construction worker and Fish's best man speech. Po Po Mo Co bring us 'The Blokes' and their outrageous take on Bob Fosse choreography and the whole thing ends with Meatloaf as you never want to see him again.

I really enjoyed seeing these drag caricatures. We have a long (and sometimes sordid) history of seeing men play women on stage and it was fun to see the other side of the coin. What was especially good was that whilst the night was full of gentle fun poking, there was no 'I hate men' commentary. The feminist darts are thrown but they pop balloons, they don't draw blood.

Dudebox is not a perfect show and I think some of it has been pulled together in a hurry, but it is a great laugh, it is timely, and it questions some social systems we still forget to interrogate. It's a late show, but a great way to end a night of Fringe hub forays.

3 Stars

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