Following a run at the 2018 Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Pining for Affection: A Tree Musical hits the Melbourne Fringe. It’s a newish comedic musical about some inhabitants of an enchanted forest.
As is appropriate for the setting, the characters, Tree and Possum can talk, but must hide their talents when people are around. As convention dictates, the people are royals, here, Princess Ophelia and her would-be beau, Prince Richard.
The characters all share a desire to escape the bonds of their lives. Ophelia likes the idea of joining Richard’s musical act so that fans will chant her name. Through song, Tree expresses his regret at being “Rooted” when there’s a wide world out there he wants to see.
The characters had some fun parodying the conventions of the Disney animated musical, such as through Possum and Ophelia’s song I Don’t Want a Sidekick. At times the work shows a lack of polish, such as a through storyline that feels a little patchy and doesn’t seem to match the title. At other times we feel the work could aim higher.
Courtesy of Richard, there are plenty of (not particularly clever) dick jokes, and so I suppose it is fitting that he is a cocky character … assured of his appeal to women. He doesn’t count on the feisty Ophelia though, and we start to think that maybe this musical isn’t going to have the “happily ever after”.
A lot of the songs were belters, and a little “light and shade” would have been welcome at times. The sound didn’t help matters; often the performers were competing with a very loud backing track, and too often lyrics (and vital plot points?) were lost. However, the vocal performances were good throughout, and when the song suited the singer, very good indeed.
There are sharper parodies of the fairy tale realm around, Sammy J in The Forest of Dreams springs to mind. Yet, the crowd reaction to this often-entertaining musical piss-take should have prevented the cast from Pining for Affection.
Pining for Affection: A Tree Musical
The Ballroom – Lithuanian Club, Errol Street, North Melbourne
Performance: Friday 14 September 2018 – 8.00pm
Season continues to 21 September 2018
Information and Bookings: www.melbournefringe.com.au
Image: Pining for Affection: A Tree Musical – courtesy of Marshall and Marrows Productions
Review: Jason Whyte