Melbourne Fringe: Dora Bohl’s Virtual Vaudeville

Melb-Fringe-Dora-BohlThese are frustrating times for the impresario denied an audience by a public health crisis. Unperturbed, an ambitious producer (Chloe Towan) intends to deliver a 1920’s-influenced program of ten acts … “who all look curiously similar” … in Dora Bohl’s Virtual Vaudeville.

You might expect that such a limited cast makes dialogue a little tricky. Yet, thanks to generally proficient video editing (and, I suspect, no small measure of patience) such petty annoyances were convincingly overcome.

Aside from Ms Bohl, show creator and performer Towan played roles inspired by Jazz Age figures, from short-tempered Shirley Temple clone Baby Ruth, to a duo borrowing 1921’s Ain’t We Got Fun from musical comedy pair Van and Schenk.

There were some sound issues, and the programme could be a little patchy, such as when straining material like a Who’s on First Base? routine for laughs. However, some sharper spots brought a modern sensibility to forms of entertainment that today’s audiences might otherwise find quaint.

Towan sings well, and often put this talent to good use. Pianist “Noel Regrets” stood out for his Parody of Noel Coward’s Mrs Worthington, rebuking Mrs Williamson for disinterest in pandemic precautions.

Overall, minor blemishes are quite easy to overlook in this entertaining (dare I say a-Dora-Bohl) outing. There’s a lot of potential here, and the chameleonic Ms Towan will be one to watch (hopefully live) in future Fringes.

Dora Bohl’s Virtual Vaudeville
Melbourne Fringe Digital Program
Performance: Wednesday 18 November 2020
Season closed

Image: Dora Bohl is the alter-ego of Melbourne-based writer and performer Chloe Towan (supplied)

Review: Jason Whyte