Tunes from the Tube (Topology)
Brisbane Powerhouse, Visy Theatre
December 5 – 13
With an ABC test pattern projection domineering the pre-show stage and an opening number from “Lost in Space”, it is clear early on that there is going to be nostalgic appeal to Topology’s show “Tunes from the Tube”, which sees them presenting in collaboration with Esk’s own oddball Kransky sisters. But rest assured that you do not need to be of any particular vintage to enjoy the musical repertoire; from “Dexter” to “Downton Abbey”, soaps to “Skippy”, there is something for everyone to either instantly recall or eventually realise. The musical instruments are just as eclectic, as in accompaniment to Topology’s usual repertoire of string and piano, come the Kransky’s tuba, toilet brush and cheese grater to name but a few.
So how has this seemingly strange collaboration come about? Topology travelled to Esk to rehearse for a follow-up to the tour they shared with The Kransky Sisters in Holland. Two months later they returned to retrieve their left-behind television, only to find that the previously deprived sisters had discovered the wonders of daytime tv, reality shows and home shopping. It makes for a very funny premise as the sheltered spinsters recount the experience of having houseguests (Topology are a little bit messy and use a whole teabag each), all with trademark folksky dialogue and deadpan delivery. They barely even crack a smile, for example, when half-sister Dawn hilariously moves to her own mysterious ways to trip the light fantastic solo into the audience.
Topology are acclaimed for a reason; as an innovative group of theatre professionals they create interesting shows – always different and always good. While the premise of “Tunes from the Tube” and its collaborative execution are keeping in this tradition, the result is a sometimes laboured rhythm, particularly during an onstage quiz for ‘volunteer’ audience members. Topology shows aren’t usually so talky. Its members are musicians not actors and it is when they play their music that the show really hits it heights with a haunting version of ‘On the Inside’ (of “Prisoner” fame) and a memorable rendition of the “Law and Order” theme tune, made their own through rich string sounds.
Fluidity issues aside, “Tunes from the Tube” is full of fun, frivolity and even a few surprises. With tv as its fodder, it is rich with entertainment possibilities, for as the sisters observe, tv never sleeps from its selling and buying, yelling and lying, kissing and crying. “Tunes from the Tune” may not engender any of these reactions, but it will have you wanting to clap and sing along as you relive some treasured tube memories.