Mix Melbournians’ preoccupation with real estate with political correctness and science fiction and you’ve got Vivid White, Melbourne Theatre Company’s latest offering.
Written by Australian playwright and comedian Eddie Perfect, this satirical musical comedy clearly won over the audience on opening night.
Vivid White tells of Liz (Verity Hunt-Ballard) and Ben (Brent Hill) who have been friends with Evan (Ben Mingay) for years. Evan is married to producer Cynthia (Christina O’Neill). Back in 2005 Ben and Evan won a major prize at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for their satirical act. Ben has remained devoted to satire with little financial return while Evan is now a very successful television presenter.
Despite their different incomes and outlooks, Ben and Ewan have remained friends. Then their respective partners set their sights on buying the same house in North Fitzroy. Thanks in part to the help of aggressive real estate broker, Brenda, Evan and Cynthia prevail much to Liz’s chagrin.
At the same time Melbourne is being attacked by a huge ugly tentacled creature, `Goose Güüs’, who is able to invade susceptible minds. Renters are the target of his vicious and often fatal attacks. Indeed in society generally renters have become second class citizens, subject to ridicule and even exclusion zones and curfews.
As well as taking a pot-shot at Melbournians’ preoccupation with home ownership, Perfect uses words, actions and songs to lambast other trends. Some of the funniest involve rescue dogs (complete with a life-sized rescue greyhound puppet with `handler’), decorating with colour and waiting for tradesmen.
These songs are amongst the highlights of the play. The work of the cast is another. All must be exhausted at the end of the show as, together with acting and singing, they also form the band that accompanies most songs.
Some actors play several roles. Virginia Gay plays Brenda and voices Güüs. Keegan Joyce’s roles included playing a slick young real estate agent while Gillian Cosgriff’s interior designer obsessed with `white paint’ is another standout.
The leads are supported by second year students from the Victorian College of the Arts who sing and operate the show’s large puppets.
Given the language (four letter words abound) and dialogue, Vivid White may alienate the more conservative theatre goer. But if you’re on the market for something that’s at different times unusual, over the top, humorous and topical then it may well be `a buy’!
Vivid White is playing at Southbank Theatre, The Sumner until 23 December. Visit the MTC website for more information and tickets.
Jenny Burns visited the opening night of Vivid White as a guest of the Melbourne Theatre Company.
*Picture credit: Jeff Busby
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