Wednesday, 24 October 2001

Thank God for the Idiot Box, Oct 24, 2001

Cool Cat Cabaret
 La Mama at The Carlton Courthouse until October 27, 2001
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

There is so much sophisticated, hyped up performance on during the Melbourne Festival, it is refreshing to see a bunch of teenagers doing a show they created themselves.

Director, Ella Filar devised Thank God for the Idiot Box with ten teens called Cool Cat Cabaret from Princes’ Hill Community Centre drama program. It is a cabaret and sketch comedy show that is genuinely funny.

It has some laugh-out-loud scenes, polished musical numbers, slick scene segues and a couple of poignant moments. Filar keeps the pace quick and the scenes short and funny.

These kids have keen powers of observation. Their absorption of popular culture is total. They have captured the essence of television shows including the syrupy pseudo intellectual teen soapy, Dawson’s Creek and the unquestionably silly Scream Test and Popstars.

The lead male from Dawson’s Creek makes us squirm with his politically correct statement, “I don’t believe the child within is gender specific.” Another keeps leaping on stage and announcing gleefully, “I’m gay!”

The outrageously deep and husky Scream Test host (Dylan Evans) takes us on scary trips inside an abandoned orphanage and a home for old Elvis impersonators.

The weather guy on the news cheers us with news that “the clouds have happy faces tomorrow”.

The actor-writers keep the parodies coming thick and fast. In one witty moment, a grandpa listens to a child cry and says, “ I wish I was teething.”

There is some very listenable live music played by Filar between scenes and as background to sketches. The opening song, written and performed by Luke Troyner,  is a very fine number with bass, violin and guitar in a Paul Kelly style. Troyner, is a classy presence on stage playing the “I’m gay! “ guy as well as a rap artist performing a song called “Bitch!”

There are  scenes about kids left at home alone, kids with drunken parents, loser mothers, no dinner and split families. So much for the happy family.

There is a peculiar convention in the latter half. A boy watching television alone, channel surfs with his remote control until finally he disappears into the screen. This is not resolved properly but could make a clever ending.

The closing musical number is a cheerful finale to a charming and cute show with some real teenage talent on stage.

Kate Herbert

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