Sunday, October 28, 2012

more sex please


We went to the Comedy Theatre tonight to see More Sex Please… We’re Seniors!

Live theatre, no matter how bad, never disappoints me. [Actually, this is pretty much my approach to cake as well. Hmm.]
I enjoyed More Sex Please, because it was live and it was light and it had some really good laughs in it. But overall, it was a stinker.

What’s Australian for “off-Broadway”? Whatever or wherever it is, that’s where this should have started, because it needs a lot of work. Or should be cheaper to see. Or something.

More Sex Please is touted as a musical comedy, but I would argue that it is nothing more than a series of songs and sketches held together by a single setting and a single bunch of characters. Beyond the setting there is no story. There is a series of … well, not even incidents, but nothing engaging on an emotional level. Whether we are talking comedy or tragedy, if at some point we are not moved to think “I hope he/she doesn’t do it” or “I hope this or that doesn’t happen” there is no drama, and therefore no story.

A real story is made up of lots of little stories, but even the little stories in this show weren’t engaging enough to be stories. They were just fun.

There’s nothing wrong with fun per se, but seeing two hours of fun on stage with no emotional engagement is a bit like trying to read a joke book from start to finish.

The characters in the show consist of two seniors couples, plus one other incredibly irritating chap who is supposedly a maintenance man/ gofer in the Guantanamo Palms Retirement Village.
Part of the fun in a live show is seeing how the director will contrive to move props around. More Sex opens to the sound of silent movie style piano tinkles, with the maintenance man doing a truly tragic job of trying to move props around slapstick style. I felt sorry for him for about five seconds, til I realised he has a paid job and I don’t. But dying on stage is painful, and whatever he is being paid is probably not enough.

The first ten to 15 minutes were dreadfully contrived and superfluous. John-Michael Howson might be a well informed movie critic, but someone ought to tell him the best place for a writer to start a story is in the middle.

Three of the other four characters were consistently drawn, but I’m not sure John-Michael has yet made up his mind about whether Myra is a prudish middle aged woman with alzheimers, or somebody with a zest for life who knows what’s what.

It was a bit disappointing that Jane Clifton’s understudy [a name I didn’t catch] played the part of Joan. She fluffed a lot of lines, and during a song in the second half ran out of puff. I don’t want to diss the woman for not being Jane Clifton – it was obvious from other songs that she really can sing, but she simply wasn’t prepared for the part.

Mark Mitchell and Michael Veitch made a great job of the material which ranged from pathetic to brilliant – in lesser hands the characters would have fallen flat.
Tracey Harvey worked her very talented heart out as Myra, but it wasn’t enough to save the character.

It would be churlish of me to expect every single joke or witticism would be new and original – though I did hear lots of new jokes and witticisms I’d never heard before. One line was a direct rip-off of the Pete Seeger hit Get Up and Go, and I say rip-off not because it has been done before, but because it almost seemed as if we were expected to think it was original.

One final whinge is about a pet hate of mine – audience participation. My first instinct is that having left school no one should tell me what to do unless they pay me. Audience participation is hard to do well. Asking people to sing along to something that is not funny is very hard to do well.

When telling jokes – or a series of them – we have to decide whether we are entertaining a mob of sheep, or entertaining people with some intelligence. Intelligent people like subtle humour. They like to guess the punchline, and the entertainer should set up the joke and if the audience misses it, move on. When a joke is told twice so that the drones can pick up on it the second time around, the people who guessed it the first time will get bored, because they’ve already read the telegraph. To then tell it a third time as an audience participation sing along is padding. Seriously, this part of the show was patronising and insulting. Once a horse is dead, it doesn’t matter how hard or long you flog it, it’s dead.

But it was fun, and very funny in parts.

If choc-top ice-creams are an important treat for you as a show-goer, be warned: At the Comedy Theatre there was a lass walking around with a chiller-bag clearly labelled Peters, but the choc-tops she was actually selling were branded Rowena.
For my five bucks I could have bought a slab of tofu and had a more satisfying combination of flavour and texture, with some nutrition thrown in. Or I could have just put the five bucks straight into the bin while I was standing next to it, and saved myself a special trip.


  1. Well you've got me totally confused FC I can't work out whether you enjoyed it or not haha! Honestly you couldn't pay me enough money to stand up in front of an audience, how about you. I did enjoy the video, catchy little number haha! Sounds like you're having a good weekend.

    1. Grace, you would be very entertaining on stage. A kind and genuine sense of humour is infectious.
      Hope you're having a great weekend as well!

  2. I really hate audience participation. It makes me want to walk out. I'm like you, why should I pay to told to stand up, sit down...

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  4. I didn't check the brand of choc tops we bought at the theatre last week, but $5 is really getting up there for an ice cream. Interesting that our tram company has accepted ads on trams for More Sex Please, We are Seniors, but would not accept ads for Sexpo.

    1. It would be interesting to know how the tram company decides what is or is not suitable advertising. I'm not sure More Sex Please will get a lot of word-of-mouth advertising.

      The ice-cream thing is ridiculous. [If we go to the pics, TO always pops corn at home to take.]

  5. HAhaha! Sorry to laugh at your misfortunes (yes, there's a big fat lie right there) but at least they're grist for your blog mill, if your future post about shades of grey is anything to go by ... I bet I laughed harder at that than you did at this show!! Audience participation is getting a little bit close to the interminable focus groups, conferences and workshops I endured in the wonderful world of work. But at least I was getting paid for it!!

    1. Ah... team building exercises. Bonding!

      The sad thing is that days later I am still thinking of things the director should have fixed. But do you think I can recall even one of the funnier lines in this show?
      Still, something good has come from this night out, if it is only that YOU have had a laugh.