Disco: The Vinyl Solution, Fiona Scott-Norman, Arthur’s Bar @ Rosati, 95 Flinders Lane, City. Tues-Sat 9:30pm, Sun 8:30pm. $23.90/$20. Until April 24
If you’re after a soundtrack for your impending suicide, Fiona Scott-Norman’s your girl. The longtime DJ has corners in her record collection that probably sound better played backwards – from Alvin and the Chipmunks covering Achy-Breaky Heart to the dubious delights of tone-deaf Chinese-Kiwi cult singer, Wing.
Unlike her previous show, The Needle And The Damage Done, the dark recesses of her eclecticism are only incidentally inflicted on us. The main game here is Scott-Norman’s thesis that popular music has destroyed partner-dancing, leading to a range of ills: street violence, social dislocation, and seven-year-olds sexing it up to Beyonce.
It isn’t all bad news. There’s Jane Korman’s controversial YouTube video, where Holocaust survivors boogie to Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive at Auschwitz.
The material is potentially brilliant, full of outrageously witty similes and mordant cultural reference, and Scott-Norman isn’t afraid to look ridiculous. Witness a spot of “interpretive tap-dancing” to a medley of shit-splat Australiana.
Yet her delivery is patchy. Scott-Norman swallows gags and loses her thread. She should take a deep breath and slow down.
The Hardest Word, Ava Vidal, Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel St Prahran. Mon-Sun 9pm. $25, $17.50 Tuesdays. Until April 23
Teen mum, prison officer, stand-up comedian: Ava Vidal has been all three. Mixing a loose tongue with a hard heart, her show explores that bane of our confessional age – the public apology – with cool fluency and an utterly unapologetic disdain.
It’s stand-up with a harsh, dark edge, a refreshing change from all the feelgood crap. What’s interesting about Vidal is that she doesn’t care about being liked. At all. Black anecdotes spring from her mouth in a radioactive stream: from kicking beggars in India to being stabbed in an act of domestic violence, from getting smashed and sleeping with idiots to mercilessly dissing her kids.
Using famous apologies – Tiger Woods, Justin Bieber, national Sorry Day and the Catholic Church’s catch-all mea culpa for “2000 years of religious violence” – Vidal suggests that saying sorry these days means … well … bugger all really.
Not every gag works, but Vidal’s a tough enough customer to ride over the bumps with ease.
A Fine Bromance, The Bad Boys of Music Theatre, Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel St Prahran. Tues-Sat 10:15pm, Sun 10.00pm. $25, $17.50 Tuesdays. Until April 23
Emerging cabaret artists Andrew Strano and John Frankland, a.k.a The Bad Boys of Music Theatre, look set to have a bright future. A Fine Bromance is a skittish showcase of their many talents, though it needs a firm directorial hand to slap the stink of drama school out of it and concentrate the show on its strong points.
The show skewers metrosexual man love, using Avenue Q-like puppetry, sharp rewrites of Broadway classics, and well-produced video spoofs. (The music clip to their song Amazing – a delicious lampoon of bling-ridden R&B – steals the show. It’s available on YouTube.)
Yet these elements aren’t emphasised as the highlights they are. Instead, they’re smothered in shtick that at best is a diversion; at worst, tedious and overeager. It doesn’t help that the boys’ double act is played more to each other than the audience. When their talent is matched by a more mature appreciation of performance craft, they’ll have us rolling in the aisles.