With razor-sharp humour, and an unbelievable set of pipes to match – Alice Tovey, in her new one-woman show, Malice, surely consolidates her position as an up-and-coming favourite at this year’s Fringe Festival.
Tovey, with her creative partner and on-stage counterpart at the piano, Ned Dixon, rollick through the young modern-Australian psyche, in a cabaret packed with quick wit and a collection of brilliant original songs. Amid the intimate surrounds of Son Of Loft at the Lithuanian Club in North Melbourne, Tovey deals with everything from love in our detached age of social media, feminism and catholic schooling, to everybody’s favourite blue-tie-wearing, breakfast show geezer, Karl Stefanovic. On offer is a relatable, an often insightful, but devilishly funny, insight into topical and relevant issues of the seemingly disillusioned bulk of twenty-somethings. Tovey takes this cynicism and distils it to an essence that is sometimes quite personal, yet sprinkles it with a generous dusting of humour – the perfect amount to make self-deprecation insanely funny.
The real highlight lies in Tovey’s inimitable skill in proffering good comedy through song. This medium can often be a trap for comedians, for whilst the song’s content may be funny, the desired reaction might not be received owing to problems in delivery, or even in the musical makeup of the piece. However, Tovey’s delivery proved to be, as they say, “on point.” Her voice is a big and powerful vehicle in this show, and is used to great effect. The skills displayed, and her staggering abilities in the art of singing were, indeed, incredible. This, however, in no way detracted from the task at hand – rather, her slick execution of the vocals only added to the laughs had, with well-written, Tim Minchin-esque lyrics to match.
Ned Dixon’s music added yet another layer of polish. His adept composition and incredible mastery of numerous musical styles were astounding. The Melbourne-based composer peppered the score with flavours of modern Broadway, to jazz and pastiche, only highlighting his unique skill for both composition and performance.
Technically, the show worked well. Simple lighting states offered visual variation, with uncomplicated staging showcasing the stand-up style. Sound-wise, however, some problems did exist. The amplification of the stage piano maintained a good level throughout, yet with seemingly little or no inclusion of Tovey in the final mix. Whilst this showcased the sheer power of her voice, in such a small space as Son Of Loft, the commitment to having everything amplified or acoustic should be noticeable and not exist in a sometimes sonically strange middle ground. Indeed, Malice cries out for a bigger venue and a piano perhaps to intensify both the brilliance of the songs written, but also the already-high sass factor.
That said, the success in the acerbic humour presented was surely noted, with some of the funniest moments being Tovey’s off-the-cuff comments and her exemplification of the true pessimist-comedian and ‘Disciple of Satan’.
Together, Tovey and Dixon have created an incredibly well constructed cabaret, highlighting both of their skills to great comedic effect. Both early on in their careers, the theatrical sophistication shown speak volumes for their skill in this area. With a very punny title, Malice offers an opportunity to ride the proverbial rollercoaster, with both emotional peaks and troughs. The great thing, however, is that it is all wickedly funny.