Melbourne Fringe – Professor Plum, In The Parlour, With The Pineapple

MF LittleBits Professor PlumCompany LittleBitts is composed of acting students Lou (Lucy Czerwinski) and Kate (Katie Pierce) of Brisbane, assisted by droll stage manager Caitie Hirini. Their show flyer indicates they’re big fans of physical and absurdist comedy, listing influences Lano and Woodley, Monty Python, The Young Ones, The Goodies and The Mighty Boosh, performers and shows I also enjoy.

It is unfortunate and quite apparent that LittleBitts don’t understand the cleverness behind such comedy well enough to translate it into practice in their offering Professor Plum, In The Parlour, With The Pineapple.

The show purported to be a dinner party allowing “two suburban chicks to pay homage to their favourite things; murder mystery, our lord and saviour Agatha Christie, Cluedo and wine.” The potential nuttiness of the show placed it in the top tier of shows my guest and I wanted to see this Melbourne Fringe.

Our anticipation subsided pretty quickly. Starting 15 minutes late is incredibly unprofessional in a festival where Fringe die-hards plan to see multiple shows in a night. It probably didn’t help that it was a 6.00pm Friday show with an audience much more sober than a typical open-mic night audience.

On the show flier, Little Bitts write “We look forward to hosting you again, and can’t wait to see how long it will take before someone notices we’re really shit.” The answer is not long at all. Whilst there’s plenty of silliness in the show (not so much of a traditional dinner party or Cluedo though), it becomes dull quite quickly when there’s nothing to hold the story together and it doesn’t build towards anything.

Struggling with boredom before too long, I would have walked out except that my guest felt sympathy as there was such a small audience, including some who already knew (or were related to?) the performers. They leant too heavily on doing something badly and then drawing attention to it (quite unnecessarily) with an exclamation like “I’m shit at improv.”

Perhaps the lack of professionalism extends to their preparation. The venue was different to that published in the Fringe guide (although Little Mess was apt), concession tickets promised there are not available, and they’ve dropped their advertised Sunday performance.

You can see the youthful energy in the dance moves and enthusiasm of these very young women. Perhaps they could try a new lord and saviour? Maybe they need Kenny Everett’s spirit to appear and give them some tips, or punish their negligence towards their audience by banging their heads together. Now that would be comedy!

Belatedly LittleBitts seem ready for some reflection, as they discussed the need for rewrites on Sydney Road afterwards. With 460 shows on offer at Melbourne Fringe, a discerning audience can almost certainly do a lot better than such a self-satisfied, immature, undergraduate effort.

Professor Plum, In The Parlour, With The Pineapple
Little Mess, 408 Sydney Road, Brunswick
Performance: Friday 15 September 2017 – 6.00pm
Season: ended
Information: www.melbournefringe.com.au

Image: courtesy of LittleBits

Review: Jason Whyte

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