Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Urban Display Suite, Michael Dalley, Jan 3, 2011, *** ½

Urban Display Suite by Michael Dalley
Music by Michael Dalley & John Thorn 
Presented by Ross Mollison International 
Lawler Studio, MTC, Southbank, Jan 3 to 21, 2011 
Reviewer: Kate Herbert 
Stars: *** ½
L to R: Gabrielle Quin,  Michael Dalley, Sharon Davis, Lyall Brooks. Photo by Mike Emmett.

THE PROPERTY MARKET may be depressed along with buyers and sellers, but you can bet your McMansion on the gleaming smiles, showy brochures, empty platitudes and questionable pricing of estate agents.

Urban Display Suite, Michael Dalley’s deliciously wicked and frighteningly accurate, satirical cabaret, snipes at estate agents, the upwardly mobile, their tasteless décor and ‘the national drug of choice’ – our obsession with property.

Dalley and his cast (Lyall Brooks, Sharon Davis, Gabrielle Quin), attired in comically predictable corporate wear, sing Dalley’s acerbic, witty lyrics. Real estate, they croon caustically, is ‘The white collar job for the blue collar brain.’

They attack cheesy artworks in the G and S style song, Shit Art of the Mornington Peninsula, and snobs who send their kids to expensive schools in It’s A Terrible School (but the grounds are stunning).

The songs, accompanied by John Thorn on piano and accordion, range in style from tangos and latin tunes, power ballads and laments to show tunes.

Some clever sketches and witty repartee link the songs, and it is Dalley and Brooks who carry the comedy.

There are four clever, new songs since the original production, although the added length makes the show a little long – or perhaps the individual tunes need some internal editing.

Although, apart from Dalley, the singing is not exceptional, the scathing parodies and social commentary carry the show.

Brooks is hilarious as the shonky, gung-ho auctioneer in The Ballad of the Auction Cowboy and Dalley’s lament about high-rise living, I’m Sure I’d Love My Neighbours if I Knew Them, is funny and poignant.

My Little Bit of Everything McMansion Façade attacks extravagantly bad taste homes that pinch a bit from every style and prove that you can’t buy taste.

 I Wanna Be Tasteless has with sharp lyrics such as ‘I wanna live Roberta Williams style.’

 Only Forty Minutes (from the city) is an indictment of the lack of infrastructure in satellite suburbs, and If You Bought Before the Boom reminds us that we should have bought in 1969 to make a buck from property.

A rollicking and raucous highlight is Brooks singing the outrageous celebration of greedy inheritors, One Day (all this will be mine).

If you suffer from property envy or are addicted to lifestyle shows and display villages, there is something to hoot at in Urban Display Suite.

By Kate Herbert

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