The musical comedy (plus other emotions) stylings of Gillian Cosgriff have given me some incredible highlights at festivals over the past few years. This Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) she presents her newish show, To The Moon And Back – which looks at her fears of two unknown frontiers: space and marriage.
My experience with Cosgriff’s shows began with Waitressing … and Other Things I Do Well, a show that toured extensively, including a season at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Next I saw 2013’s This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things, a similarly polished effort.
These stellar shows combined the comedy of self-effacement, some pure emotional moments, and memorable songs of Cosgriff’s own writing into an irresistible proposition. To The Moon And Back has some nice songs without having the high points of earlier shows.
The two fears of marriage and travel into space aren’t integrated so well. At times the show seems to argue against itself, such as in a song telling us about how planet Earth is doomed. Songs about difficulties from Cosgriff’s past seemed superficial compared to earlier offerings. Whilst previous stories between songs were punchy with good quips, here they are waffly. This may be because Cosgriff dwells on already familiar ideas, such as the childhood bridal fantasy where only a groom is required. It is also regrettable that she feels the need to explain some pretty obvious jokes to her audience.
However, you can always count on Cosgriff to both play her keyboard and sing well. There’s also some evolution of her act here, with the use of loops to build layers in songs. The opening night (possibly not so representative of the general public) crowd had good laughs at various points. And, there’s extra effort with costuming in this outing, which added an element of surprise.
In a sense, the main problem with this show is that it doesn’t meet the astronomical standards that Cosgriff has led us to expect. I suspect more time will see refinements to this prototype vessel. The show may also benefit from pulling away from the jokey solar system of a comedy festival.
Fans of Cosgriff’s work might find that waiting until the Fringe comes around will allow To The Moon And Back to take them to a higher orbit. The uninitiated might still quite enjoy hovering around some fairly safe comedy territory performed by a gifted singer and musician.
Gillian Cosgriff: To The Moon And Back
The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne
Performance: Wednesday 23 March 2016 – 8.30pm
Season continues to 3 April 2016
For more information, visit: www.comedyfestival.com.au for details.
Image: Gillian Cosgriff (supplied)
Review: Jason Whyte