Sometimes a show turns out to be very unlike how it advertised itself. Even if a preview is a bit rough, that’s soon forgotten if the show is good enough. It’s much harder to forgive a work served up in a half-baked state, as in Victoria Falconer’s cabaret Oxymoron.
That’s not just an opinion by the way; 34 year-old Falconer readily admitted to not having spent enough time developing the show. Even if she hadn’t started with this, it would have been obvious soon enough.
The patchy nature of the show indicated a desperate need for a recognised writer and director to make better use of Falconer’s talents. The opening, employing looping and layers, took a long time to get anywhere. Worse was a segment where Falconer produced folders with labels such as “Bisexual” or “Mixed Race” on them, and proceeded to ask the audience what we thought of these.
The lengthy list included terms that we don’t even use in Australia, making this quite dull sequence feel like Play School for leftie adults. Falconer acknowledged that a Fringe audience wasn’t likely to use these terms, and little was gained by spending so much time on them. In fact, it was just boring padding.
Details of Falconer’s identity and upbringing seemed to be scattered randomly through proceedings, which was an impediment to getting to understand her. When she talked of her mixed heritage and early exposure to feminism, as it seemed she hadn’t suffered particularly much, the stories were quite lightweight.
The shambolic nature of the show (as shown by Falconer starting and abandoning elements) was very unfortunate given that Falconer actually seems to have a range of talents. She can sing well, play a variety of musical instruments, perform energetic dance routines, and has a rubber face reminiscent of the young Dawn French. If placed in a more coherent structure, these varied spots wouldn’t have had to overcome the dissatisfaction my guest and I felt with the flabby segments.
Falconer offered complimentary tickets to anyone who wanted to come back in the last week of the Fringe to see how the show has evolved. I can’t see this being too dramatic in the five performances remaining when the show doesn’t seem to have a clear idea of what story it wants to tell.
Falconer got some love afterwards from fellow artists who saw the show for free. If you were a punter though, you might feel that the show didn’t respect your time or money. I’ve seen some very disorganised shows lately, and it would be unfortunate if “Satisfied Fringe Audience” came to be an oxymoron. Certainly my guest and I left deflated, thinking “That can’t be the end of the fringe for us, not like this.”
Victoria Falconer: Oxymoron
Lithuanian Club, 44 Errol Street, North Melbourne
Performance: Sunday 24 September 2017 – 6.45pm
Season continues to 30 September 2017
Information and Bookings: www.melbournefringe.com.au
Image: Victoria Falconer
Review: Jason Whyte