Saturday 1 April 2023

STINKING HOT TRASH: Theatre Review

WHAT: Stinking Hot Trash
WHEN: 29 March - 8 April 2023
WHERE: The MC Showroom (Theatrette)
WRITTEN AND PERFORMED BY: Isabelle Carney
DIRECTED BY: Samuel Buckley and Will Hall
AV BY: Gabe Micallef

Isabelle Carney - photo by Cornershop Comedy

Yep. The Melbourne Comedy Festival is back for 2023and Melbourne stages are filled with comedy in all it's fabulous forms. Stinking Hot Trash is one of the crazier offerings playing in the Theatrette at The MC Showroom this week.

Stinking Hot Trash is a comedic incarnation created by Isabelle Carney. Carney was part of the writers room for Mad As Hell and the absurdist aesthetic defined by Shaun Micallef shows across the course of the evening. Stinking Hot Trash is a bit more random and unformed and perhaps leans more closely to the Aunty Donna style of comedy.

In Stinking Hot Trash Carney doesn't let us into the baggage she carries around. She is here to tell us about all the garbage in her life. Across the hour Carney takes us from sketch to sketch showing us a world which doesn't make sense. 

It begins with TV show parodies such as 'House Porn' where a Nordic model takes us around her mansion. She particularly likes a chair she bought because it 'speaks' to her. In fact it really does speak to us all. It is a very scary chair which will reappear and join a support group for killers!

We also get to meet Beefheart, a brave dog who - in the Lassie style - will join in the hunt for Jessikah who left her coffee at the cafe. I really did love the film noir detective sketch which led us all on a search for this missing women. Funny and engaging.

I wanted to like this show and found myself having several explosions of unexpected laughter which is exactly how absurdism works. I am not convinced the show holds together though. Some leaps are just too far and whilst I like when a comedian takes a moment to reveal a truth about themselves, I found Carney's jump to her experience with leukemia jarring. 

This leads me to my big problem with Stinking Hot Trash. The transitions. The shift from sketch to sketch was just awkward and caused the entire energy of the show to fall flat. I left the room thinking the show was completely under rehearsed and it is unclear to me how a show with two directors (Samuel Buckley and Will Hall) can be so poorly prepared and structured. There was a dramaturg too! What were these people doing?

The video content (Gabe Micallef) of the show is fantastic. The scenography is good and the editing is top class.

I notice that almost everybody involved in this project have a screen background and this might explain the weakness of Stinking Hot Trash as a stage show. You can't do a slow fade to the next skit on stage. There is no way to edit out the uncertain pauses and you can't move content around in post to create rhythm and intention. In live theatre this has to be done in the rehearsal room. Yes, even stand up comedy needs rehearsal.

Carney has a strong grasp of absurdist comedy and undoubtedly will make an impact in comedy on screen. I am not as convinced of her future as a live performer without stronger support in theatre making.

Stinking Hot Trash is a great training piece for the whole team, but I don't think this is ready to go on stage. There are some real comic gems in this show though and I do look forward to seeing Carney and her team in the future, once they have had time to work out the performance elements of live theatre.

2 Stars

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