A fringe guide description of an act doesn’t always give the whole story. A good example is that for local musical troupe The Guilts. Notionally their show Hearts was to be an hour of songs, one for each of that suit of playing cards. In practice, the audience were dealt a lot of other elements.
The deck was stacked against The Guilts on this night. By now, pop music has explored love songs extensively, and I was ready for Hearts to give us something from the road less travelled. Maybe it would have if we were able to better hear the lyrics. The horn section often drowned out the vocals, leaving us only to appreciate a bunch of pleasant-sounding tunes. Possibly there was the odd new slant; one song I could hear consistently well compared love to a “phantom limb”. This window of clarity just made me wonder what else I might be missing out on.
In between songs was the surprise of a (let’s go with “Vaudevillian” if we allow for the sound issues) range of guest artists. These included “Miss Burlesque Australia” Bella De Jac doing a striptease or hugging audience members, puppetry from Bronwen Kamasz, and saw-playing from white-faced mime David “Splatt” Rosenblatt. These were nice enough without being show-stopping moments.
Seeing the ensemble of The Guilts (Ed Farrar, Andrew Howe, Duncan McBride, James Naughtin, Gabriel Piras, Katie Walsh) and guest backing singers spread out across the stage, some in darkness, the enjoyment of performing was evident. Whilst it’s great to love what you do, Fringe audiences might expect something a bit more surprising and polished, that ends with more than just a “That’s it” from the lead singer.
There weren’t too many punters at all in The Ballroom at The Lithuanian Club at 9:15pm on a public holiday Friday, which might support my feelings about the act. Maybe the setting just wasn’t right for the show. I can see Hearts going down well at an outdoor festival, on a stage big enough for everyone, with the sun shining and a cold beer in your hand.
Melbourne Fringe: The Guilts – Hearts
Fringe Hub: Lithuanian Club – The Ballroom, Errol Street, North Melbourne
Performance: Friday 30 September 2016 – 9:15pm
Season: 24 September – 1 October 2016
Image: The Guilts (supplied)
Review: Jason Whyte