A romantic comedy from two of Sydney’s best-loved storytellers Griffin Theatre Company rounds off its 2018 Season with the debut of romantic comedy THE SMALLEST HOUR, written and performed by the hilarious Susie Youssef (Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Squinters, Accidental Death of an Anarchist) and Phil Spencer (Story Club, Hooting & Howling).
Shelly and Chris haven’t seen each other since high school. Now 30, neither of them is leading the life they imagined for themselves. Shelly’s a bit lost; having spent a decade floating down a path she no longer wants to follow. She’s in charge of the quiz at tonight’s Hens’ Party, but no amount of Pimm’s or penis-shaped cake is going to make this feeling go away. Chris likes to think of himself as an “entrepreneur” but he’s recently resorted to casual work as a painfully self-conscious stripper. Worst of all: he’s got a Phil Collins song stuck in his head.
One fateful, alcohol-soaked evening, in a city very like Sydney (but definitely not Sydney) Shelly and Chris cross paths, and an unexpected second chance arises for them both. Rich in observant detail and warm humour tinged with melancholy, The Smallest Hour invites audiences to sit back, get cosy and let two consummate storytellers conjure up a gentle romance set against an unlikely backdrop of winding bus rides, orange powerade, and velcro pants. Invite your partner, your mum, your mate—or the one that got away.
No laughing. This is serious. 9 months of heats are over. It’s the finals. The teams have done their warmups. The rules have been reviewed. There is a quiet expectative hush in the sheds. Who will take home the coveted Cranston Cup for 2015?
Some sounds resonate deep down inside:- The squeal of kids running down a sandhill; Act 1 of ‘ Billy Budd’ in the hands of a skilled male chorus; the explosion of women’s laughter after a ‘did she really say that’ pause. Tonight’s FROCKING HILARIOUS belonged to the last choice. The Enmore was the venue for the show in aid of ACT!ONAID as part of the 11th Annual Sydney Comedy Festival.
As MC, Fiona O’Loughlin’s bumbling ineptitude was comedy of the moment perfectly placed. And her timing, in putting herself down for it, was, as she said, better that her mother’s. Well. All of our mothers really. And therein lies the power.
Over the days leading up to the show I asked a few female friends. Why women? Why funny women? Why only women? The answers were about honesty and the topics which could be discussed. Childbirth, sex, appearance and how we women speak differently about that in different situations. Essentially it boiled down to freedom, to express and to vent. I’ll add one more from my own experience. To share without judgement.
Denise Scott was great. She is wise and accomplished and a brilliant humourist . And old. Awesome! My friend and I turned to each other and smiled, ‘Denise is talking to us’. After the show, our younger companion went, ‘Is this what is in store for me?’. My aging friend was suitably solicitous. Such things as inter-generational bonding over pubic hair.
There were lots and lots of jokes like that. Sex and childbirth were themes as was being a mum, for good or ill. Beauty and appearance were right up the top of the agenda. And on that topic, I just ask have to ask how Gretel Killeen managed to find those earrings to match with that particular orange shade of her shoes?
That fashion question aside, Gretel says herself that she is no stand up comic. But she is a classic comedic storyteller and her list of the famous people she has been mistaken for was a masterclass in the use of silence and the falling inflection.
Jackie Loeb did some advanced showing off with her guitar before stealing lyrics from every other singer she could think of.
Susie Youssef extemporised a palm read with Adam from the front row. Poor Adam, he copped it from everyone else then.
There were few brave male souls who were good humouredly used as props. My favourite was woman-to-watch, up and comer, Penny Greenhalgh who did an ice skate on roller blades using a pink shirted volunteer as Dean to her Torvald. Just hilarious.
Some artists missed the mark but no one there missed the point of the show. The artists all donated their time and material to support ACT!ONAID which is global movement of people working together to further human rights and defeat poverty for all. Women’s Rights are the key focus of Act!ionaid Australia. More about this organization can be found at actionaid.org/Australia.
Carol, the charming representative of ACT!ONAID joined Fiona onstage to draw the raffle at the end of the show. It was then that our MC let the performer Improv Fee off the leash. She was side splitting and what a great finale. That sound rumbling through the venue. I loved it.
FROCKING HILARIOUS played at the Enmore Theatre for one night only as part of the 11th Annual Sydney Comedy Festival.
It’s not the tune but what a musician does with the tune that often gives a piece its special quality.
The same goes for a writer…it’s not so much the subject, but how a writer plays/works with it, the composition, if you like, that can give a play its appeal, its resonance.
There’s some interesting touches and tones that playwright Benedict Hardie brings to the perennial theme that exists within THE BOAT PEOPLE.
The play is about the steps that people go about to rebuild their lives in their new homeland and the baggage and the struggles that they have gone through in getting ‘here’ and the touch balancing acts involved.
Benedict Hardie helms his own play and realises a strong production. The show goes 100 minutes straight through and the cast keep up a good energy all the way through.
As the two former refugees, Susie Youssef plays the very ambitious Sarah and William Erimya plays her companion Karl, a troubled but jokey soul.
Emily Rose Brennan primarily as a pushy journalist and Luke Joseph Ryan mainly as an equally pushy, though in an all together way, physical trainer in the supporting roles.
THE BOAT PEOPLE is set in Sarah and Karl’s living room of their upmarket house with its all glass outlook as deftly suggested by Michael Hankin’s design.
Recommended, THE BOAT PEOPLE, a co TRS and Hayloft Project production, plays at the Bondi Pavilion Theatre until 21st June.
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