The Butterfly Club is one of Melbourne’s leading, full – time performance spaces. For almost twenty – five years to date, the city – based institution has promoted more than one thousand new and exciting shows. Located in Carson Place, the club covers a vast array of entertainment options including stand – up comedy, games, karaoke, song cycles, improvisation, cabaret, musicals and plays.
Its proprietors also helped to kick – start the careers of Tim Minchin and Eddie Perfect, and more recently, featured established stars like Amanda Harrison, Jemma Rix and Kurt Phelan.
Now playing for a strictly – limited season, Mystery Radio Theatre presents a quirky set of gripping and exciting thriller – comedies. From the minds of ‘Man Bites God’ and the ‘Theatre Of The World’ podcast, this team’s adventuresome offerings are equal parts, tongue – in – cheek parodies, and nostalgic tributes to a bygone era.
Decades before the internet or indeed, free – to – air television in general, commercial radio was the leading source of instant mass communication. Wide – reaching service ranged from news, sport, music, current affairs, and especially serials. Indeed, a fair few of these episodic dramas were staged before a live studio audience.
Last year, Mystery Radio Theatre was one of the stand – out acts from the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Reimagining this old – time throwback for the twenty – first century, in 2016 the group produced three vastly different stories.
- ‘The Adventure of Smuggler’s Cove’ (a parody of Enid Blyton’s adventures for children).
- ‘Murder Me Again, My Darling’ (a spoof in the style of Raymond Chandler and Mickey Spillane).
- ‘Whodiddendunnit’ (lampooning Agatha Christie’s crime mysteries).
Back with a vengeance, this season the company is featuring ‘Maxie Diablo & The Funky Funky Sex Murders’, ‘Under The Blood Moon’, and ‘The Killer Wore Death’.
The opening night’s presentation was ‘Maxie Diablo & The Funky Funky Sex Murders’. (It should be noted that each story will have one repeat performance over the six evening run).
Written by James Hazelden & Nicholas Rasche, with sharp direction by Hazelden, it was clear from the outset that the pair put a great deal of time and research into development. For example, small touches like an ‘On The Air’ sign suspended from the lighting grid, dressing the cast in matching Pulp Fiction inspired attire, some witty pop culture side references, and clever sound effects operated by on – stage props and lap top, helped to enhance the overall viewing experience.
Reading from folders in hand, the six – member team included doe – eyed, Fleur Murphy (as Investigator, Maxie), Vaughn Rae (as her intense, but devoted boyfriend, Walter), Mark Woodward (as smooth – talking club owner, Sexy Pete), Emily Carr (as the mysterious Madame Lash, and Bambi the Stripper), and Chris Tomkins (as bumbling Reverend Jehoshaphat).
Standout moments included a hot tub liaison, the recurring use of a bull whip, as well as some quick – talking banter between Maxie and her hard – as – nails boss (also played by Woodward).
The actors’ fast – paced, yet relaxed camaraderie together, reminded this reviewer of local and international comedy ensembles from classic television and radio sketch shows such as ‘Australia, You’re Standing In It’, ‘The Carol Burnett Show’, ‘The Comic Strip Presents’, ‘The Late Show, ‘Mad TV’, ‘The Naked Vicar Show’, ‘SNL, and ‘The Tracy Ullman Show’.
With a compact sixty – minute running time, the entertainment was neatly sliced in two by a brief interval. This short break showcased a guest artist on stage, followed by a fun mock commercial.
Special mention must be made to Tuesday’s performer, Floyd Thursby, for his playful rendition of ‘A Bag Of Knives’, which was an ideal, mood – enhancing choice for the occasion.
Capturing the cheesy essence of seventies’ sexploitation flicks mixed with odd – couple cop movies, the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Mike Myers and David O. Russell would be pretty chuffed. It was a joy to be in on the joke.