Beyond the blurb

Being Jesus (Delirium Comedy Group)

The Boundary Hotel

May 8 – 23

Sometimes a show’s blurb is so enticing that you become determined to have it succeed for you. “Being Jesus” is an example of this: great concept but god-awful execution (pun intended).

It’s Jesus’s birthday. He’s getting on and getting tired of his mum Mary’s questions about that prostitute ex-girlfriend Mary Magdalene. Still, he’s determined to bring the whole family together for dinner: his mother, omnipotent father, Carpenter Joseph and even Satan (just don’t call him Lucy). It doesn’t take long for the Holy family gathering to descend into dysfunction. A bored and drunk Mary is full of resentment towards God for what he did to her body, God is an angry, rude sadist and a hen pecked Joseph never speaks.

jesus present

Yet, while the set-up is primed with possibility, it misses it mark in delivery, with too many prolonged moments and indulgent performances. And I was certainly surprised to find that such a laborious show has come from a comedy group because I was hardly laughing into delirium. God might think he is funnier than Buddha, but I certainly didn’t. Perhaps it was just me who found his comedy offensive (and not cleverly so). Or is it not too soon for jokes about missing Malaysian flight MH370?

I assume (hope) that excessive exaggeration of the show’s energetic performances is with aim of presenting a melodramatic family drama comedy (like a soap opera on steroids), but at times it is difficult to tell. Although there is some interesting interaction between Jesus and Judas, this is where the appeal begins and ends. Coupled with the competing sounds of a live band playing in the next room of the Boundary Hotel venue, and it seems barely worth the effort, much as I wanted it to do its premise justice.

You can also follow my Anywhere Theatre Festival reviews c/o the Festival website.

The Brisbane theatre you have when you aren’t having theatre

The Short+Sweet Festival

Brisbane Powerhouse, Visy Theatre

August 21 – 23

The Short+Sweet Festival moved to the Brisbane Powerhouse this week, where ten Theatre entrants performed to an enthusiastic audience of family and friends (gathering by the over the top laugher and screaming as applause garnered by some pieces).

From the opening act “To Write My Epitaph” the story of Edgar Allen (just Edgar Allen, no Poe)’s life and work, told in verse, to the final frivolity of “Orgasma and the Intergalactic Sky Cock”, a “Rocky Horror Picture Show” meets “Spaceballs” (with a touch of “Alice in Wonderland”) farce, the eclectic nature of Short+Sweet’s first Brisbane Theatre Strand was clear. There was even some drag c/o Orgasma herself and also the Virgin Mary in “Being Jesus”, which sees Mary, Jesus, God, Judas and Satan gathering for a birthday celebration with Jerry Springer style results.

Indeed, the Strand Four plays certainly offered something for everyone, including ensemble and monologue pieces. Even the monologues offered audiences a range of realisations, from the frenetic chaos of “Captain Everything” to the funny fly on the wall musing of Edmund Hilary in “The Rise of Sir Edmund”, which shares the explorer’s frustration with that whining hippy, Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and search for the perfect synonyms to describe the white of his Everest views.

A clear and deserved audience favourite (and one of the two works selected to play in repeat performance at the Gala Finals at the Brisbane Powerhouse at the end of September) was the comedy “Bitches”, about two warring dog show owners and their prize-winning bitches, played to canine comic perfection by Bonnie Mullins and Xanthe Jones, including some ad-libbed reactions to a mobile phone audience interruption (#whatiswrongwithpeople). Joining it, from this strand will be “Going Viral”, a topical look at what can go wrong when well-intentioned parents attempt to take charge of their daughter’s online self ahead of her Facebook eligible 13th birthday.

While clearly it is difficult for some audience members to stay focussed for even these shortest of timeframes, the ten minutes, bite-sized running times are more than just a novelty, adding to the festival’s unique appeal; if a show is not your thing, you only have to wait it out for a short time until another in underway. And with another strand yet to show next week, there is certainly a lot from which to choose, the largest number the festival has ever seen and testament to the strength and dynamism of Brisbane’s thriving independent theatre scene.