Fortunately, her local council has an award for artistic excellence. Securing the prize by outshining her rivals can only happen if Ms Beige Brown Goes Beyond.
The appearance of Ms Beige Brown (Cathy Hunt) reflects her name. Swathed in layers of neutral and cocoa tones, our heroine could cause us to recall stereotypes of dagginess or blandness. Her lodgings show a similar commitment to styles of the past, as her rattan room divider and rotary phone can attest.
But the world has changed around Ms Beige Brown, and Australia’s employment services providers have certain “mutual obligations” to monitor. Thanks to the attitude of stickler case manager Ruben (a comically disinterested turn by Shannon Loughnane, the work’s “outside eye” and one of Hunt’s co-conspirators), it seems that Ms Beige Brown must take on employment that will keep her from artistic pursuits.
Using her wordsmithery to win the artistic excellence prize would solve this problem. However, to do this, Ms Beige Brown will have to negotiate some hurdles. There’s a deadline, and the quirks of her local council, as exemplified by Angela, a deliciously indifferent admin officer (Yvette De Ravin Turner). There’s also the competitive selection process, with rivals such as Jordan Lobo (Thomas Schmocker), an exuberant producer of TikTok dances.
Some lines in the show will benefit from having a chance to breathe. At times audience laughter drowned out parts of Ms BB’s lower-volume monologues. Possibly because of this, we didn’t always get to experience the convincing advocacy that relatively unpopular artforms need so that future generations can access other ways of seeing the world.
Also, as Ms Beige Brown is a “woman of a certain uncertain age” – we may wonder how she managed to fund the pursuit of her proudly non-commercial art for the decades leading up to this point.
However, this review afternoon was only the work’s third outing at MICF 2023, and it’s quite likely such glitches will be smoothed soon enough. The ensemble already manage to wring some good laughs from proceedings.
One person’s beige-and-brown dagginess is someone else’s “Nordic cool”. Yes, there are some big names at MICF 2023, yet there are often rewards in visiting the less-common colours of the comedy spectrum.
Word nerds and fanciers of character comedy will get their MICF night off to a good start with Ms Beige Brown Goes Beyond.
Beige Brown and Co-conspirators: Ms Beige Brown Goes Beyond
Queen Victoria Women’s Centre (Wayi Djerring), 210 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
Performance: Saturday 15 April 2023 – 5.45pm
Season continues to 22 April 2023
Information and Bookings: www.comedyfestival.com.au
Image: Ms Beige Brown – photo by Darren Gill
Review: Jason Whyte