With solid pop vocals, witty banter, and a ukulele at the ready, Alia and Colin invite us into their world of sex, nerds, and rock ‘n’ roll.
The endearingly awkward Colin Craig dons an aesthetic that can only be described as ‘campy nerd chic’, as his female counterpart, Alia Vryens, rocks a flattering black dress – voluptuous vixen style. The couple’s contrast in clothing aptly reflects their heightened presentation of self, which they play with a light-hearted confidence, allowing us to gauge a sense of their relationship on and off the stage. Throughout the show, quick changes in lighting accompany shifts in narrative tone and musical timbre, which is both effective and comedic. In this, it is clear that Alia is accustomed to commanding the stage solo as she takes the lead in their original songs, whilst Colin diligently supports (as a sort of Andy to her Hamish). The slightly disorganised instrument and loop pedal-baring stage in conjunction with the pair’s competitive game-themed introductions feel reminiscent of the performances in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World; part nerd, part punk, part parody, part comic book superhero. This mix of conceptual elements work in their favour and definitely contribute to the show’s appeal for audience members who are avid gamers and consumers of all things ‘nerdy’.
Note: As someone who is not one of those people, I found their fan-focussed quips floated right over my head, so I will be reviewing this show as objectively as possible, but also with an awareness that ‘fandom’ is not something every audience member is accustomed to.
We shall proceed…
The first production element that stood out to me as a factor to be reconsidered was the volume at which their show was presented, which was definitely too loud for the small venue and caused dialogue to be distorted at times. This presented some minor issues with regards to storytelling as the show heavily relied on the audience being in the ‘know’. Despite this, I had a few ‘a-ha’ moments, like when Alia stated, “Everyone is welcome – except Voldemort.”
I felt as if I could really be involved in the show whenever moments like this ensued, therefore it didn’t particularly matter that I didn’t ‘get’ everything.
From the importance of choosing the most suitable Dungeons and Dragons party members, to exploring the relationship between sex and history, to musical parodies within original songs – there was enough content in this show for everyone to ‘nerd’ out for at least a moment or two.
Personally, I found my moment of childish glee when the pair’s use of audience interaction saw the show transform into a multi-dimensional, multi-faceted exposé of a nerd’s world, and the audience’s place in it. In a clever and immediately recognisable game of Tetris, Colin and Alia lured their audience to the front of the Butterfly Club’s limited seating space.
I was impressed that a) they found a sneaky way to get everyone to move closer to the stage in order to make the audience feel bigger and, b) it didn’t take too much convincing to get a group of adults to join a human version of the classic 80’s game!
The human arcade experiment didn’t stop there either…
After the pair performed The Who’s ‘Pinball Wizard’ (another a-ha moment of mine that had me in stitches), they encouraged (not lightly) everyone to get involved in a game of Pinball. Not only was this a completely bizarre experience, but also the compelling juvenile act of getting everyone involved in their game, (as they passionately batted around neon balls with, you guessed it – neon bats), took me completely out of my head and had me fully immersed in the action before me. This reiterated the importance of keeping an audience on the edge of their seats, particularly in an intimate cabaret format, which they did in a way that made everyone feel comfortable and engaged.
Overall, Nerds Are Sexy could possibly have been improved with some more musical variety from a stylistic point of view. Whilst the original rock songs were impressive, the show could have benefited from more dynamic musical storytelling. That being said, their earnest way with words and lyrics were highly impressive and well developed – I look forward to seeing this show in its next evolution!