Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Shane Warne: The Musical, Dec 10, 2008 ****

Shane Warne: The Musical
Music and Lyrics by Eddie Perfect
Athenaum Theatre, from Dec 10
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Even if you were never hypnotised by Shane Warne’s spin bowling you’ll be dazzled by the charismatic Eddie Perfect. Perfect is a bright light that draws the eye at every turn. In Playboy Bunny jocks or cricket whites, he is a vivid presence in Shane Warne: The Musical, directed by Neil Armfield.

Perfect plays the lead and wrote the lyrics and music. He must be as tired as a spin bowler after a five-day test match.

“Everyone’s a little bit like Shane”, sings Perfect with the outstanding chorus of eight. In this show, Perfect somehow redeems Shane, the naughty boy we loved to hate. Warne is an ordinary bloke with an extraordinary skill. Perfect’s cunningly wrought songs are mostly gently satirical observations about Warney’s personal foibles and outrageous failures. His life is “the soap opera that keeps giving.”

But Perfect’s incisive insight triggers sympathy and empathy with the young cricketer who made such public mistakes. It’s revisionist Warney history; he whom we loved to loath is adored again.

The show opens with Perfect, as Warne, chatting charmingly and disarmingly. The evening begins slowly with too much chatter and too many similar songs about Warne’s undramatic early days and the staging feels a little cramped. But by interval it has an energy injection and the second half goes like a rocket with impeccable support from the chorus and the impressive on-stage band.

Perfect writes hilarious lyrics with crafty rhymes in songs such as the upbeat, rousing Hollywood about heroes standing their ground. It compares Warne with Ned Kelly and the Anzacs. That Ball relives with reverence Warne’s magical “ball of the century”; his memorable first ball in England that dismissed the England Captain.

Perfect/Warne shirt-fronts the world with brazen bullishness in They’re Paying Attention Now and, with the chorus of men, reminds us of Australia’s notorious on-field sledging, in We Never Cross The Line.

What an SMS I’m In is a witty view of Warne’s humiliating sexy phone messages. My Name Is John is a funny Bollywood style number about the Indian bookie scandal and The Away Game is a Barry White-style sexy number with slinky dancers.

But the tone changes with two poignant, sensitive songs about Warne’s marriage. Rosemarie Harris is sensational as Simone singing, Is The Sun The Moon?, a moving song about this simple girl who can’t understand her boofhead husband. I’m Coming Home is a passionate, sad love duet between Harris and Perfect.

It all ended on a high and the crowd rose as one chanting, “Warney! Warney!” When the man himself appeared. I joined them – and I’m not even a cricket fan.

By Kate Herbert

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