Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Friday, 11 April 2014
DreamSong, April 10, 2014 **1/2
Melbourne International Comedy Festival Music by Robert Tripolino, Book & Lyrics by Hugo
Chiarella Red Heifer Productions Theatre Works, until 20 April 2014
Star rating: **1/2
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Review also published in Herald Sun online on Friday April 11, 2014. KH
Jesus is back! And this time he’s wearing thongs!
In DreamSong, a corrupt pastor (Ben Prendergast) fabricates the second
coming of the Messiah to save his church from insolvency.
It sounds like a great, satirical idea, but the potential is not yet
realised in this patchy, new Australian musical created by Robert Tripolino and
Despite being subjected to a series of creative developments,
productions and rewrites, the problems with the narrative, music, lyrics and
dialogue remain unresolved and DreamSong is still not a finished,
The highlight of the performance is Brent Hill as The Real Jesus, whose
skillful comic timing and delivery saves a number of scenes.
There is only one compelling song, Just Have Faith, that hints at the musical
possibilities of this team, with its memorable tune and simple lyrics sung by
Connor Crawford’s clear, tuneful musical theatre voice.
The problems are manifold and, with the exception of this one song, the
tunes are forgettable, musical arrangements thin and sometimes jarring, narrative
structure is messy, characters are predictable, and dialogue and lyrics are
often crass, lacking wit and complexity.
The show tries to be irreverent but ends up being merely
unsophisticated, adolescent and looking like a bumpy university revue.
Attempts to introduce some serious elements – death of a young soldier,
political corruption, fraudulent charities, church sexual abuse – feel bolted
on and are not well integrated within the narrative.
There is potential in the parade of characters that includes the sleazy,
exploitative Pastor Sunday (Prendergast), his desperate, brassy wife (Chelsea
Gibb), perky daughter (Emily Langridge), his adoring bookkeeper (Evan Lever),
the dishonest Prime Minister (Mike McLeish) and his dodgy PR manager (Alana
Talented director, Dean Bryant, does his damnedest to give the
production sparkle, the ensemble gives committed performances, working hard to
sell the songs, characters and story with energy, however their voices vary in
quality and the acting is uneven.
DreamSong has not yet fulfilled its dream to be the new, original
Australian musical but perhaps a few more rewrites will save it from damnation.