Dreaming a dream to take the epic musical Les Miserables and make it their own, Karen from Finance and Dean Arcuri are waging war in Melbourne, taking on Myki and public transport inspectors in their offering to Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
Preview night took us on a cozy adventure to Hares and Hyenas, where the Library is full for some musical theatre piss take realness, where Les Mis is given the drag pantomime it has clearly been missing all along.
Following a very loose story line of impoverished Melbournians fighting on-the spot Myki fines and the evil bureaucracy of Canberra, this is a crass, crude and fun concept of a show. Unfortunately it’s not much more than a concept at this stage, between the unrehearsed costume changes and Arcuri not knowing any of his words yet- he was not at all ready to lip sync for his life, even to the songs he has pre recorded. His timing is bad but when you loosen Arcuri up and let him sing instead of badly mime, he has plenty of charm and a great voice, but he’s hiding behind an iPad til he learns his words.
The songs he is learning words for are clever takes on the original score, a camp comedy journey that isn’t fully realized but has huge potential. Their take on Master of the House, about Parliament and our political overlords, told with a cheeky and clever slide show of memes and truly ridiculous real news content. Empty trains and empty tram carts is fun and touching and their version of Castle on a Cloud is a trashy train wreck that has potential with rehearsal and a plan. Karen from Finance is an expressive delight across the show, from her highly expressive face and fishy facial expressions to her no bullshit take on the show.
It’s a pity that the show as a whole is not much more than these two charismatic beings lip syncing to songs, and explaining the story line mid way through, which looses shape as the show goes on. I would have loved to see more of the story acted out on the back drop Les Mis provides, which I think can definitely be done with a little more concept development. We stop and have the story line explained to us at the mini interval, and at other moments where the story line feels like it’s been abandoned. It’s a story Melbournians will love and we had a fantastic time watching it, but the show is a little lacking and falls flat, even on the audience of fans and family. Here is to strongly hoping the show is a little more together for it’s upcoming opening night, on Sunday 3rd April, as the show has immense potential and is red hot funny when it hits its mark. These two talented performers take you on a journey that’s not for fans of the original musical for five shows only.