A Space Called Thelma – Rajopolis, Tue 27 Feb
Pauline Hanson may have drifted out of the news again lately, but she is still rich fodder for humour. And in this case the perfect subject for musical comedy. No wonder Flaming Howard Productions got the Sydney Fringe critics’ nod for this show. It’s wonderful.
It must be said upfront that they should be playing at a much larger venue because 1) they had difficulty fitting themselves all on stage (the drummer was off stage and unseen!!) 2) they deserve an audience of hundreds.
This is a full tilt musical. A five piece band, and five singers/players. And they were all great – there is no suggestion of a weak link anywhere. The songs were infectious and funny, the singing was marvellous; staging and choreography spot on, and costumes all eye-catching and appropriate.
And then of course there’s the story of the woman we all love or hate. Tracking through Pauline’s political life from 1994 to the present, we meet various characters who have assisted her rise and fall and rise again along the way: co-founder of the One Nation party, David Oldridge; when jilted he goes off bleating to a vindictive and narcissistic Tony Abbott, who is made to look and sound even more ridiculous than he does in real life - superbly played. Other famous redheads are featured – Todd McKenny in his role as co-host of Dancing with the Stars, and ex-PM Julia Gillard gets a brief cameo.
The various players who took turns being Pauline all did a great job. As did the whole cast. Like I said, not a weak link anywhere. Writing, direction, staging, singing, acting, and musical arrangements all come together in the hands of very talented cast and deliver a show that is upbeat, energetic, classy (in a fish and chip shop sort of way) and funny.
And just in case you thought it’s not right to elevate this woman to national icon status in routines of harmless fun, we are sent home with a serious reminder of how this all came about.
I can’t speak highly enough of this show. Level of difficulty – 10. Do yourself a favour and go and see these heroes in Pauline’s story. They deserve a crowd.
(This review also published in The Clothesline.)