Monday, 27 November 2017

Vivid White, Nov 23, 2017 ***

Music & script by Eddie Perfect, Melbourne Theatre Company
At Southbank Theatre, Sumner, until Dec 23, 2017 
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Nov 23, 2017
Review also published in Herald Sun Arts online on Monday Nov 27, 2017, and later in print. KH
Christina O’Neill, Brent Hill, Ben Mingay, Verity Hunt-Ballard _photo Jeff Busby

Vivid White, by Eddie Perfect, includes witty, satirical cabaret songs that glue together a play merging sketch comedy and mild social satire with pure idiocy and absurdity to tell a story about home ownership.

Perfect’s feisty songs, with their pithy lyrics, diverse styles and quirky musical arrangements (James Simpson), are the highlight of Dean Bryant
’s production, along with the vivacious, hilarious cast of actor-singers.

When Liz and Ben (Verity Hunt-Ballard, Brent Hill) and their friends, Evan and Cynthia (Ben Mingay, Christina O’Neill), bid for the same house in desirable North Fitzroy, tempers fray and their long-standing friendship, based on Ben and Evan’s award-winning, now-defunct comedy act, suffers a fatal blow.

But this auction feeding frenzy is just the beginning of a descent into madness involving the rise of a despotic rule of law designating ‘home owners’ a privileged class protected by armed guards who shoot ‘renters’ who invade the ’Owners’ Zone’.

The scenario gets even more absurd when the tentacles of an unseen (until the final scene) mind-controlling creature (voiced by Virginia Gay) invades the minds of aspiring homebuyers and starts murdering renters.

If we expect political satire to mercilessly flay its targets, then Perfect misses an opportunity to attack significant impediments to home ownership: investors, developers, banks and government. The hapless, single homebuyer seems a soft target.

The clever, entertaining songs make the play’s structure, narrative and dialogue look ordinary and repetitive, and the songs might be better served in a cabaret format linked by incisive, satirical banter.

The multi-talented performers play instruments and sing the irreverent songs, including: Gay’s rendition of Soft Close Drawers, the show standout reminiscent of Kurt Weill, the spirited What the F... Was That?, Better (‘I’m doing better than them’), and Lambert’s lament about her failed auction bid.

If you enjoy a swipe at the housing market and crave songs and silliness in the Silly Season, Vivid White may be just the ticket.

By Kate Herbert 

Brent Hill, Gillian Cosgriff, Virginia Gay, Keegan Joyce, Ben Mingay_ photo Jeff Busby

Vivid White Song list
Prologue: What The Fuck Was That?
A House is More
Rescue Dog
Better Gillian Consgriff
The Part of You That Never Moves Out  Lambert lament
They Come Late (Or Not At All)
Taking Out The Bins
Edinburgh 2005
Soft Close Drawers
One Satirical Song
Vivid White
Men’s Right’s Activist

Gillian Cosgriff, Virginia Gay, Brent Hill, Verity Hunt-Ballard, Keegan Joyce, Ben Mingay, Christina O’Neill

Creative Team:
Director Dean Bryant
Musical Director/
James Simpson 
Set Designer 
Owen Phillips 
Costume Designer 
Tim Chappel
Lighting Designer 
Ross Graham
Sound Designer 
Russell Goldsmith 
Assistant Director
Sarah Kriegler

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