Wednesday, 1 April 2015

The 3 Mikados, 1 April 2015 ****

With Colin Lane, David Collins & Esther Hannaford
The Famous Speigeltent, until 19 April 2015
Melbourne Comedy Festival
Stars: ****
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Review also in Herald Sun online, 2 April 2015. KH

Mash up Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado with some hilarious slapstick, goofy characters, hammy acting and delicious harmonies and you have The 3 Mikados.

Directed deftly by Russell Fletcher, this totally bonkers re-imagining of G & S's popular comic opera from 1885 is a treat for so many reasons.

The show is the brainchild of two heroes of the Australian comedy scene, Colin Lane (Lano and Woodley) and David Collins (Umbilical Brothers), who bring their formidable physical and verbal comedy skills to the stage.

Lane and Collins can sing too and are joined by musical theatre star, Esther Hannaford (King Kong) with her exceptional voice, and the inimitable John Thorn on piano.

In this version of The Mikado, the three performers play multiple roles, a theatrical device that creates mirth and mayhem when all characters are on stage at once and the trio must switch characters in the flap of a fan.

They use blood red, Japanese paper fans and silly voices to indicate costume and character changes, leading to plenty of slapstick chaos and laughs.

The comic premise is that Lane is the autocratic boss of the production – "It's My-Kado", he claims – so he grabs every role, compels Collins and Hannaford to do humiliating auditions for roles then steals their characters.

They switch in and out of character to argue about acting styles and characterisations, criticise each other's performance, taunt one another about their outside jobs, with Collins (and the audience) in particular teasing Lane about his TV cooking show.

Their interpretations of G & S classics include Collins' cleverly modernised rewrite of Ko-Ko, The Lord High Executioner's song, I've Got A Little List, Lane's camp version of Nanki-Poo's romantic ballad, A Wand'ring Minstrel I, and Hannaford's enthralling rendition of the jilted Katisha's solo, Alone And Yet Alive.

Their trio of Three Little Maids From School Are We is a hoot, the Mikado's song is a riot performed as a Burlesque fan dance, and Let The Punishment Fit The Crime makes a fine finale.

This is show to catch, particularly if you are a bit jaded by stand-up routines and want a bit of colour, physical comedy and music.

by Kate Herbert

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