Posts Tagged ‘brisbane comedy festival


Strong Female Character


Strong Female Character

Brisbane Powerhouse & Rowena Hutson

Brisbane Powerhouse Graffiti Room

March 15 – 20 2016

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

Welcome to the party, pal!


Businessman: You want to know the secret to surviving air travel? After you get where you’re going, take off your shoes and your socks then walk around on the rug bare foot and make fists with your toes.

John McClane: Fists with your toes?

Businessman: I know, it sounds crazy. Trust me, I’ve been doing it for nine years. Yes sir, better than a shower and a hot cup of coffee.

John McClane: Okay. It’s okay, I’m a cop. Trust me, I’ve been doing this for eleven years.

5 Die Hard films in 5 minutes?! Crazy! Yes! So crazy it works! There is a whole lot of fake blood and gun shots and shouting but before that there is Rowena Hutson already seated on the teeny tiny Graffiti Room stage, bopping and singing along to our favourite empowered eighties pop chick tracks and grinning at us as we take our seats. We settle and raise our glasses – it’s the good Rockbare shiraz (so nice to bring our wine into the theatre in a glass but it could just as easily be bubbles in a plastic party cup) – the vibe is fun and frivolous and…mysterious. The Die Hard homage is ridiculous, hilarious, and puts us in the palm of Hutson’s hand. The story that follows softens us, allowing us to gently unfold and open up no matter what our day or week or month or year has been like, and prompts us to remember, with something like nostalgia or horror, similar events in our own teen lives.

Hutson wanted to be born a boy. Until the age of six she was actually totally convinced she had been born a boy…with girl bits. At fourteen she experienced a sexual encounter that made her realise it was time to take ownership of her lady parts and all that society says comes with them.

With TOMBOY tattooed across her forehead (IT’S A METAPHOR), Hutson takes us with her on a journey through her fascinating life, as a person with a serious identity crisis. Until now.

The show is fast and fabulously funny. We’re involved from the outset – music and laughter unite us – and the use of a series of placards, handwritten in black pen, remind us of the lessons we’ve learned from the greatest (male) action heroes. Wolverine, Han Solo, Indiana Jones, Marty McFly, Bill Murray, and Bill and Ted (!) all get a look in. She asks if there is anyone else worth mentioning and I think of Daniel Craig as James Bond and Michael Douglas in Jewel of the Nile…okay, whatever, we watched it a LOT in the eighties… I don’t offer it but Bond gets a mention.

We bring Angelina Jolie to the table as the epitome of the strong female character.

It’s one thing for a well-built male action star who looks like he could throw guys around to do so; it’s quite another when they ask me to believe that Angelina Jolie can do it.

– Jack, YouTube

Hey Jack? Fuck off. WE BELIEVE IT. We realise that so many of the qualities we admire in the strongest female (and male) characters are those we believe we don’t possess ourselves, and fail to acknowledge when we do recognise them fleetingly, in ourselves or our closest female (and male) friends…

Hutson is strongly feminist in the most delightful, tender way. She’s tough and vulnerable and easily relatable: a feminist and a scoundrel. Her smile is infectious and we feel like we know her, like we used to hang out with her. She sings and dances, and touts a toy gun and swears like a trooper while remaining eloquent, completely charming, challenging the status quo, demanding Hollywood front up and everyone shape up. Hutson is particularly engaging during the placard/dance numbers and each time she relaxes into the storytelling to let the show flow, delivering the material with genuine confidence.

If it takes a village – and it does – Hutson is the funky, fearless chief with the passion, energy, sparkling sequins and iconic action film references to lead us. She’s cute and strong and unfuckablewith. Armed with plenty of personal anecdotes and the wisdom of hindsight, Hutson delivers an outstanding comical piece that refuses to rest on its poignancy, rising above it instead and taking us beyond it, to a place in which we can just get the job done. We need to stop overthinking it. We need to live it. Every one of us, every day. We walk away feeling uplifted, optimistic, and inspired rather than enraged, a clear measure of success in my book. 

It just seems so obvious in this day and age, that women are just as human – that is to say, funny and flawed and capable of incredible feats of heroics as men.

– Rowena Hutson, The AU Review

This is life affirming, culture changing theatre that should be on the National Curriculum list. I wish we could clone Hutson and send her into every secondary school (and surf club and pub) in the country with this show. Strong Female Character must be the cheekiest, and most charming and enlightening show of Brisbane Comedy Festival.


Titanic the Movie the Play

Titanic The Movie The Play

Brisbane Powerhouse & Act/React

Brisbane Powerhouse Plaza

March 2 – 19 2016


Reviewed by Meredith Walker




‘Boy meets girl meets iceberg’…. turns out that the premise of James Cameron’s 1997 epic melodrama, Titanic is actually one laden with levity, as seen in Titanic The Movie The Play.  The love story of aristocratic Rose and poor artist Jack aboard the ill-fated passenger liner is making its maiden voyage at the Brisbane Comedy Festival courtesy of Act/React, the Brisbane-based comedy troupe behind the hit Speed The Movie The Play.


Although the movie’s source material is condensed from 3+ hours into a palatable 60 minute interactive 3-D experience, all of the key scenes appear in Jack and Rose’s fraternisation despite being passengers of different classes – Jack teaches Rose to fly, Rose poses nude for Jack’s sketching and then uses an axe to free him from his handcuffed confine and then there is that steamy sex scene signalled by hand to a car window. There is even appearance from Celine to croon of how her heart will go on from atop the impressive set, built from scratch by volunteers from the Queensland Maritime Museum.


Jokes are generated from more than just its movie namesake source material. Those familiar with Leonardo DiCaprio and Billy Zane’s respective film catalogues will find fun in recognition of the script’s many, clever inset references. Indeed, it is the smallest details that provide much of the show’s humour – from the Oscar stuffed in Jack’s bindle to the iceberg’s ‘How’s my driving?’ bumper sticker.


Despite its watchmen’s best hair-dryer efforts, the rogue iceberg seems set to ruin the ocean liner’s unsinkable reputation and as audience members join the band of musicians, others are soon strapping on life jackets and abandoning ship into the three full sized lifeboats leaving behind Jack and Rose to try and remain afloat.


In the hands of director and co-writer Greg Rowbotham  this shameless homage to the most epic romance of the ‘90s is high energy and heaps of fun (and not just in its ‘fun facts’) and therein lies its appeal. Audience interaction is positive and without pressure (although you might have to show off some signature dance moves).


Titanic The Movie The Play is a hilarious heap of absurdism and great for a group outing that could be become every person for themselves with some ending up in first class and some in steerage. For a guaranteed night to remember of non-stop face-aching laughter, do not miss the boat in securing a place on board this most inventive voyage. It will not only serve as reminder of how fun theatre can be, but also the delight of the greatness that was Billy Zane.


Speed the Movie the Play




Speed the Movie the Play

Brisbane Powerhouse & Act/React

Brisbane Powerhouse Plaza

March 3 – 21 2015

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

Sorry, I’m just too tired to solve the formatting issues here. Frankly, this is one you don’t even need to read. THE NEED IS FOR SPEED. This show is fine and super fun; if you can get a ticket you should hurry up and go.


there are too many terrific shows on offer at Brisbane Comedy Festival! You can’t see them all!

What do you do?







On Friday night I offered to pick up our homestay student and her friend from the Good Life fest in Doomben. It was my fourth consecutive night in Brisbane last week after seeing The Laramie Project, The Seagull and The Naked Magicians. I didn’t mind heading down again because the extra trip meant a) I could stop in to meet one of the fabulous women who is helping me build a new little business (clearly, I wasn’t busy enough!) b) Poppy and I could hang out and do dinner and a show and c) I knew the girls would get home safely with me. 

You may have missed out – it may have sold out – but I’ll tell you about it anyway. Yep. You guessed it! Speed the Movie the Play is a clever little tribute to the 1994 film starring Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper and Sandra Bullock. It parodies every aspect of the film, including the absolute ludicrousness of the entire situation. At least, it seemed ludicrous in 1984…let’s not think too much about that. Not surprisingly, the live “little-show-on-a-bus-that-could” has been extended due to popular demand for a third week. And Brisbane Powerhouse says it’s SOLD OUT. If I were you I’d turn up anyway, on any given night, in case there are no-shows. If you can’t see it, head to Bar Alto and then something else. Brisbane Powerhouse is a hip, happening venue and it’s fun JUST TO BE THERE.


Speed the Movie the Play is one of those so-crazy-it-just-might-work creations. Just like our Mystery Bus – a Woodford Folk Festival institution and one of our all-time favourite gigs – this show is actually presented ON A BUS. It’s a great gimmick! (And its pretty funny to watch the crowd outside watching the crowd on the bus!).


We hang about by the Powerhouse doors, awaiting instructions, and when everyone is assembled there we enter an “elevator”. It’s the square cousin of The Naked Magicians’ Circle of Mystery and it comes crashing to the basement floor all around us, just like in the movie, only not at all like in the movie because SAFETY FIRST. This is the first indication that this show is going to be DIFFERENT. AND CRAZY. AND FUN. We suspend disbelief. We can sit wherever we like (Poppy wants an up-front seat and I remind her that this company probably doesn’t know about my reluctance surrounding audience participation. This could present a problem. She says, “Well, if they hand you a card just read it, Mummy. That’s all you have to do.” Oh. Right. Of course. No problem.). We follow Jack Traven (Dan Beetson) down the side of the bus, where a madman leaps out and threatens to blow up his hostage.



Well, in this instance the hostage escapes with his life, and we are hustled onto the bus (Beetson’s Co-Creator, Natalie Bochenski is already on the bus #crazylady), where a volunteer Sandra Bullock sits behind the wheel!

The bus appears to be moving – sort of – and we laugh out loud while performers clad in theatre blacks travel past the windows with an inflatable palm tree, a bus stop sign and then, wearing box cars on shoulder straps, jostle for position at an imaginary set of traffic lights. It’s very funny because, well, it’s a bit like The Wiggles on ice. No, not Disney’s ice…


The entire plot is condensed into a 60-minute show, so there’s a lot more action than dialogue (and several pauses are probably too long for the intended dramatic effect), but it’s all delivered with tongues placed firmly in cheeks, and willing members of the audience get a good shot at shouting out selected lines from the movie. These are printed on cards and distributed randomly. The guy sitting opposite me reads with some conviction, “I have a wife and kids!” And I get, “I have TWO wives and kids!” Poppy thinks this is HILARE. “AND VERY BRAVE OF YOU, MAMA.” In case you’re wondering, Act/React has given this show an M15+ rating, but I feel this is overly considerate of the company (the only really graphic sexual reference for example, goes right over the eight-going-on-twenty-eight year old’s head), or else they were very kind about the language and some of the jokes used on the night we attended, in which case, thank you Act/React! 

A short, loud, bold show, packed full of wonderfully silly special effects and funny famous one-liners, Speed the Movie the Play is perfect festival fare and probably the most fun you’ll have at Brisbane Comedy Festival.

It may well be SOLD OUT! But go anyway and be a stowaway, or steal a ticket from an unsuspecting punter at the doors of the Powerhouse… OR lament at the bar because you didn’t book early enough and let this be a lesson to you.

The season continues with or without you Friday 13 March 7.15pm; Friday 13 March 8.45pm; Saturday 14 March 7.15pm; Saturday 14 March 8.45pm; Sunday 15 March 7.15pm; Tuesday 17 March 7.15pm; Wednesday 18 March 7.15pm; Friday 20 March 7.15pm; Saturday 21 March 7.15pm


I Might Take My Shirt Off


I Might Take My Shirt Off

Brisbane Powerhouse & Sharpened Axe

Brisbane Powerhouse Turbine Platform

February 13 – 14 2015


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward






Dash Kruck is an absolute starry star. A dead set legend. A really funny, talented guy.


His debut cabaret show, I Might Take My Shirt Off, is by far the best we’ve seen for a loooong time on the scene, which you might be forgiven for feeling, is a little flooded at the moment. Let’s face it. CABARET IS STILL THE NEW BLACK. We see so much of it, and so much of it is raved about that when a particularly well written, tightly structured and superbly delivered show hits our stages it’s noted. Not only duly noted, but already returning to Brisbane Powerhouse later this year it seems, if the Facebook comments are anything to go by…



“I wanna bring your show back, yo.”

Kris Stewart



TRANSPARENCY. SO IMPORTANT RIGHT NOW #teamgooding #illridewithneil


Directed by Emily Gilhome, I Might Take My Shirt Off, shares Lionel’s struggles in love and life, as he pens and performs an original cabaret show at the advice of his hilariously OTT German Nazi-therapist. FACE THE FEAR. Everyone knows cabaret is terrifying, and this is a thrilling show because THERE IS REAL FEAR THERE. Or so it seems. Dash is so convincing in the role that there are times throughout the evening when we actually hold our collective breath and think, “God I hope he’ll get it!”




Stories of sex, booze, boys and mythical beasts abound. Original songs by Dash and Chris Perren are diverse in style and consistent in quality. There’s not a dull number among them, each has its place and purpose. THERE’S EVEN A HIT SINGLE BALLADY TYPE NUMBER. YES, BALLADY IS A WORD. (I expect to see this soundtrack available for purchase on iTunes next year. Yes, I do). Dash is well respected as an actor and singer (we loved him in A Tribute of Sorts, Spamalot, Spring Awakening, Jesus Christ Superstar, [Title of Show] and the Matilda Awards named him Best Emerging Artist in 2007 and Best Actor in 2012). This show is the perfect vehicle to take him to the next level, put him on the circuit, and get him into the elusive, illustrious INNER CIRCLE OF CABARET.


I think I said this about his performance in [Title of Show] –

“On stage, Dash Kruck totes stole the show for me, with his endearingly cheeky, naughty approach to, well, everything in life. His Broadway moves and his ability to connect with those on stage and off. I’m confident I can recommend you go see anything at all that Dash appears in. This includes his kitchen when he is washing the dishes and IGA when he is doing the grocery shopping. Dash is bound to make any event just as entertaining.”






As tender and wonder filled as it is funny, and as skillfully built as any headline act that might come to us with far more fanfare, I Might Take My Shirt Off is a real contender for the bigger festivals, and could do with a return tour after a stint somewhere like, oh I don’t know, OFF-BROADWAY. If you experienced it you know that’s not too far-fetched. It’s so meta too, that theatre and cabaret students (and their teachers) should be in the back row taking notes at every performance. As Lionel ticks off all the elements of the genre, using his devastating break up tale to pull us through the ringer with him, I hear a whispered comment behind me that signals hope for the masses: “So this is cabaret… It’s great! I like it!” HOORAY!




My favourite parts of the show involve a martini and a dragon. Not at the same time. But I love the implicit 007ness of one and I’m swept away by the mythos of the other, not to mention impressed by Dash’s command of the vocals. I think of Anthony Warlow’s performance in The Secret Garden of Race You To the Top of the Morning (just go to the link and let it play while you read on, because there is no I Might Take My Shirt Off Live at Brisbane Powerhouse recording…yet). Like Elise McCann as Lucille Ball, Dash is confident enough to take his time and allow us to suffer vicariously through him. We believe every word…and every strategically placed awkward pause. N.B. Sitting towards the back of the crowd doesn’t mean Dash won’t see you and invite you to be…involved.




Dash demonstrates complete trust in the genre and in his wide-ranging ability. A great director will help a performer to realise the possibility of success from the outset. These two – Dash Kruck and Emily Gilhome – are a good match of talent, intellect and guts. To pull off a first attempt at cabaret so convincingly, is a pretty clear indicator that Dash Kruck is here to stay. But perhaps not here here to stay. Dash can take this show anywhere, and like Rumour Has It, Wrecking Ball, and The Divine Miss Bette, I’ll happily see it again and again. There is substance here, and a magical alchemy, which turns crazy late-night gin-conceptualised ideas into theatrical GOLD. I do hope Dash enjoys performing this show as much as we enjoy seeing it, because we’re going to keep demanding it!




For more outrageously funny stuff at Brisbane Powerhouse check out the Brisbane Comedy Festival! Until March 22 2015.



The Naked Magicians


The Naked Magicians

Brisbane Powerhouse & Samuel Klingner Entertainment Enterprises

Brisbane Powerhouse Visy Theatre

Feburary 25 – March 2 2014


Reviewed by Guy Frawley




Settling into my seat for the opening night premiere of The Naked Magicians I was looking forward to the show. After interviewing Chris Wayne the previous day he’d certainly piqued my interest. An interesting combination of comic stand up, magic show and titillating strip tease, The Naked Magicians would appear to be attempting to corner several markets at once. This attempt is generally, if not always, successful but either way, the audience is guaranteed a laugh out loud evening of risque entertainment as the magical duo Chris Wayne and Mike Tyler put their slogan to the test…


Good magicians don’t need sleeves. Great magicians don’t need pants.


After Simon Paynter came up with the original concept, based around his poster of a magician stark naked save for a strategically placed top, Chris Wayne was invited to help flesh out the idea before quickly bringing on board his long time friend, Mike Tyler




Driving home, my date for the evening walked me through how a number of the tricks had been performed. He’s got a sharper eye than I, but fortunately, an explanation didn’t make the boys performance any less impressive. The Naked Magicians is carried entirely by the thoroughly entertaining performance of Wayne and Tyler.


The magic is cool and the magicians are hot but that’s all just icing on the cake. The core of this show is that Chris Wayne and Mike Tyler are great performers, and have an easy rapport with their audience.


In saying that, there is some polishing required, the ‘big reveal’ that was supposed to serve as the climax of the show fell flat through the delivery and the obvious nature of the trick. The Visy is an intimate venue so perhaps they had prepared this with a more distant stage in mind, but when the seams and pop-buttons of Tyler’s jacket were clearly visible every time he turned around there wasn’t any surprise or mystery left in the closing trick.


I loved the affable nature of the show. We really get the feeling that it was conjured on a Brisbane balcony by a couple of mates over many a beverage, and when those mates just happen to be established magicians with a cracking sense of humour then I think you’re probably onto a pretty good thing!


It was great to see the audience enjoying this new show so much and I’ll be interested to see how the tour goes. Discussing the show afterwards with the production team there were whispers regarding future tour dates and if I had a bet on I’d say the guys are onto something. We should expect to see them selling out theatres across the nation with The Naked Magicians.


You’ll have to rustle up some magic of your own if you’re hoping to get tickets for the final show tonight! The run at Brisbane Powerhouse is technically sold out, but if you manage to snag yourself a ticket or two you’re guaranteed to have an entertaining evening.