What damn fine belles of the sassy bizarre are the Travelling Sisters. Having spent two years sweeping through the global festival circuit, charming audiences in Berlin, Prague, Hong Kong and Edinburgh (where last year they were named the Guardian’s Pick of the Fringe), this Gaulier-trained Aussie trio opened last night at the tail end of the festival, but with a performance that puts them right out in front.
Lucy Fox, Laura Trenerry and Ell Sachs make up sisterhood. Calmly stripping off on stage to change into hessian sacks, purple fuzzy merkins and ill-fitting bald caps, they bring to us a zoetrope of oddball characters and scenes – the more mismatched and under-explained the better. Across genders, species and vegetables (with, at one time, two playing the third’s boobs), the performers’ versatility is as convincing as it is gigglesome. Embodying aspirational bogan Olympians, minstrel moons, and a gigantic diva named Boadicea, they score points with their righteous absurd.
It’s a swift-moving and strong variety show. You have kinky octogenarian relationship drama shuttling into fantastically shit stand-up; surreal sketches and ridiculous guitar-driven ditties. Everywhere, sauciness abounds.
It’s not all light-hearted wit either. In one standout sketch, three potatoes dance. One, a potato-man, seduces a potato-lady in sexy nonsense song. The other not-so-hot potato is then left alone. Overhead, to the beat of the still-playing track, a voice booms: “Peel yourself”.
As if the sisters’ infectiousness isn’t enough, audience involvement is a thing. Passing an invisible pancake to my non-existent Valentine, I can’t say I felt any better. Another audience member accidentally killed the hunchback Coral by lobbing a pie in her mouth. Meanwhile, my theory that the large majority of volunteers are middle-aged men in cargo pants was brought closer to conclusion.
Somehow, no matter how goofy they get, Lucy, Laura and Ell always manage to recover their feminine poise. It’s a reminder that the expression of gender is mostly performative; and that despite a history (and reality) of exclusion and disparagement, women comedians are just as equal when it comes to bringing in the laughs.
The Travelling Sisters perform at the Noodle Palace right up ‘til Sunday. To ride out Perth’s Fringe World with suicidal potatoes and style, you’ll find them in the Laksa Lounge from 6.00pm.
The Travelling Sisters
Laksa Lounge – Noodle Palace, 19 Francis Street, Perth
Performance: Tuesday 14 February 2017 – 6.00pm
Season continues to Sunday 19 February 2017
Information and Bookings: www.fringeworld.com.au
Image: The Three Sisters – photo by Kate Pardey Photography
Review: Kate Prendergast