Thursday, 12 August 1999

Little Brother and A Party in Fitzroy, Aug 12 1999

Little Brother and A Party in Fitzroy
by Ross Mueller at Trades Hall until August 28, 1999
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Perhaps it was not coincidental that the opening night of Little Brother at the Trades Hall coincided with the industrial relations protest rally in Melbourne. The play addresses issues arising in a family with a communist father, a catholic mother, a radical daughter and a union-bashing son.

Ross Mueller, who is writer, musician and performer in this show, has written better plays than this. No Man's Island was an interesting script but Little Brother is disappointing because it lacks coherence, cohesion and sophistication. Even the direction by Peter Houghton could not save it.

He is teamed with Lucy Jones, composer, singer and performer with whom he produced Steel and Rust last year. Little Brother is an awkward mixture of original songs, scenes with the dysfunctional family and some very peculiar snapshots of a trio of young groovers in a cafe who read about the famous family's breakdown in the press over a macchiato and a gossip.

The show might be better served by focussing on the interactions between the siblings and parents. Mum is invisible, which is a pity. She could provide the emotional balance that the piece needs.

The monologues or narrations by dad are uncomfortable and ill-placed although there are some funny and pertinent gags about communists, the media and society.

Jones songs lack any variety. The melodies are repetitious and Mueller's lyrics, some of which are quite pithy, do not scan. It is a pity to do a musical show with two unremarkable voices which are not well balanced and with such mediocre songs.

Much more entertaining and with far better dramatic construction was A Party in Fitzroy, directed simply and effectively by Aidan Fennessy. Being a monologue, it is a less ambitious piece with no political content but has an engaging character performed with wit and sensitivity by Luke Elliot as the blokey, funny fan.

The character is an ardent fan of former Melbourne rock band, Weddings, Parties, Anything. The break up of the band echoes the deterioration of his personal life as he loses his love and his best friend.

Mueller's dialogue here is well observed and familiar to anyone who knows the band or even the pub band scene. This was a much better half hour in the theatre than Little Brother.

By Kate Herbert

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