Smart Arsing, hosted by Gretel Killeen, and held as part of The Rainbow Room schedule of shows at the Opera House for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras 2016, was billed as “part ‘talk show pilot’, part radio play, part ‘bad acting’, part ‘completely and utterly winging it!’”
As the three onstage voiceover actors – Robbie McGregor, Alistair Lee, Joey Moore – took the stage, we were told the show was completely unrehearsed.
As an audience member who witnessed Smart Arsing on Friday night, I can attest to the unrehearsed and winging it statements. For 90 minutes I was thoroughly confused, only mildly amused at times but mostly I sat there wondering what the frilly heck I was witnessing.
Aside from her introductory monologue, Ms Killeen was rarely on the stage. Instead she turns the stage over to an eclectic mix of performers and politicians.
Killeen’s life coach, “Mouthwash”, was the first performer and she took us through a routine about how your dance styles change as you get older, and then change back with the addition of alcohol.
Penny Greenhalgh interrupted this skit to ask if she could tell the audience about her ice skating spectacular that she is running a kickstarter campaign for to be held at ANZ stadium. In order to gain more funding, she wanted to give us a preview of the main number so asked her dance partner to join her onstage.
Her dance partner….Ray Martin. So I can add this scenario to things I never thought I would see in my lifetime. Ray Martin onstage accompanying Greenhalgh (who was wearing roller-blades) doing an obviously deliberately ‘bad’ routine to Beyonce’s “Halo”.
Martin was an extremely good sport throughout this entire routine but I couldn’t help feel embarrassed for the bloke.
Next onstage was a real treat. Mardi Gras stars Courtney Act & Trevor Ashley performed their ode to Matthew Mitcham – a tantalising glimpse into their show, which enjoyed two sell-out performances.
Ray Martin’s next role on stage was far more appropriate, hosting a stand up panel of several social commentators and political figures including Charles Waterstreet, Alex Greenwich, Jenny Leong and Jordan Raskopoulos.
It was basically a rapid fire Q&A session, with Martin asking questions like “What is the biggest issue with the world right now?” and “What’s the worst thing about social media” and “What gives you the shits”.
The Sandman and Scott Capurro performed routines – neither of which were to my liking, but I can see how their inclusion in an odd-beat show like this made sense.
There were two highlights of the night for me.
Axis of Awesome lead singer Jordan Nicola Bridget Raskopoulos, who only recently revealed her trans-gender status – sang a moving version of Radiohead’s “Creep”. As part of writing this review I viewed her ‘coming out’ video and can only applaud her bravery and journey.
The closing act of the night was the newly engaged duo of Beccy Cole and Libby O’Donovan. Together they sang a song-off medley of musical theatre songs and country & western songs, where the last word of one line from one song would lead into the first word of another line to the next song, with both ladies showing their musical style strengths.
I think that with just a little bit more rehearsal, consideration and actual hosting from Killeen, this could be a more enjoyable show. But this particular rendition felt muddled, confused and more like an amateur comedy hour.