Friday, 13 June 1997

Effie X-Posed by Mary Coustas, June 13, 1997

Universal Theatre 1, Fitzroy, June 1997  (no closing date)
Reviewed by Kate Herbert around June 12, 1997

Effie's people spoke to my people saying they didn't want too many press people at her three (yep!) opening nights. It would upset the balance of laughter. Now that's paranoid - even for a Boofhead Superstar!

Effie X-Posed is the next episode in the rise and rise of Effie Stephanides, altered-ego of the more benign and eminently more talented Mary Coustas. Effie stimulates the laugh glands of her predominantly "wog" (her word and theirs) young audience.

She begins by goofing about with a front row Sicilian. "Geez, a yuppie wog from Port Melbourne." What follows is a journey round Effie's return from her US tour, media coverage by Ray Martin (on huge screens) and her subsequent fall from Tall Poppy grace when Ray rolls footage of a naked Effie in soft porn, "Dean Man Bonking."

There are lots of laughs. Effie attacks everybody sometimes with a real nasty streak which can tip from funny into unpleasantness. She does a lot of Anglo-bashing, wog-smacking and American star taunting. Comparisons with our icons, Edna Everidge and Norman Gunston are inappropriate. Effie lacks their highly developed sense of satire, irony or subtlety.

The last clip is one of the most successful parts of the show. T.V. comedy director, Pino Amenta is no stage director but his Current Affair footage, shot mainly in New York, is hilarious.

Effie highjacks Dennis Hopper, who calls her "Iffie". Micky Rourke tries her on the casting couch. A real gem was the Method acting class where Effie plays opposite a Bronx Brando look-alike.

Coustas has a couple of secondary characters. Her sleezy old velvet-suited stalker, Vasili, has potential but Tammy the cocaine-freak club dancer is a clever study in phobic speed hallucinations.

She is supported by Annie Jones, who plays Sara, club owner and Blond Bitch, and Geoff Paine as Phil the woossey bartender. Paine's irrepressible comic persona intermittently busts out of straight man mode. A high point was his silly podium dance routine and "cheer up Effie" love song medley.

Writing by Coustas and television writer, Chris Anastassiades, is appropriate for TV sketches but lacks the form and narrative required of theatre or the joke quotient of stand-up. Maybe the character is best suited to the box. But the crowd seemed to go for it. Go Boofhead!

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