The 2017 Sydney Fringe Festival has kicked off, with over 360 events playing 58 venues across Sydney before the month is out. It’s a time of year when local art makers and performers have the opportunity to share their creativity with a wide audience.
One of the first cabs off the rank this year is Three in the bed, a new musical farce written by Sydney songwriter and actor Jonathon Holmes. It’s the light-hearted tale of Tim (Aaron Robuck), who breaks up with his girlfriend, Emma (Laura Murphy), on the way to a party. Hosting the party in question is Jessica (Daniella Mirels), who’s apparently had a crush on Tim for some time. When she learns of the fact he’s now single, she can barely contain her excitement.
But, unfortunately for Jessica, Tim meets Zoe (Alicia Rose Quinn) soon after his arrival at the party and is quickly taken by her. Zoe is well aware of Jessica’s long-time crush on Tim, and comes up with a way that she thinks will bring the two together (spoiler alert – it involves three in a bed!) As you may expect, an evening of madness ensues, with Zoe’s boyfriend, Ben (Adin Milostnik), coming into the picture to further complicate matters.
Clocking in at around 90 minutes, the show is silly and frequently filthy – and it’s very entertaining. Holmes has composed an appealing contemporary score that includes a number of genuinely hummable and memorable melodies, which is never an easy task. Kicking off with a high energy gospel-infused number, extolling the virtues of a ménage à trois, the score is cohesive but still varied in its sound, at moments a little bit Jason Robert Brown and, in one number, even a little Avenue Q. It’s well performed by a small but tight band led by musical director Natalya Aynsley.
Alongside Holmes’ catchy score and a funny book, the talented cast plays an integral role in ensuring Three in the bed is a success. As the guy who suddenly finds himself single and fumbling his way through a crazy night, Robuck proves the right fit for the part. He believably portrays Tim’s awkwardness and his greenness and, vocally, he’s up to the task. Mirels is similarly strong as Jessica, who she plays as highly strung and slightly nerdy. With respect to her singing, she has a solo moment to shine late in the piece and makes the very most of that opportunity. Quinn is also well cast as Zoe, who Tim quickly sets his sights on pursuing when it seems Emma is out of the picture. Her Zoe is certainly likeable, and she’s convincing in her efforts to be the friend who wants to please all parties. And Milostnik has some good laugh-out-loud moments as Zoe’s blockhead boyfriend, Ben.
But the standout of this great cast is Laura Murphy, who doesn’t miss a beat from start to finish. She was a joy to watch last year in her Sydney Theatre Award-winning performance as Sally in You’re a good man, Charlie Brown at the Hayes, and she’s a joy to watch once again on this occasion as the assertive Emma. Her comedic timing is outstanding, her vocals pristine, her energy remarkable, and her stage presence totally commanding.
As the show’s run progresses and cast members grow increasingly comfortable in their characters’ skins, each of their performances should naturally become even bigger and ensure this farcical comedy earns every last laugh it can. Even on opening weekend, the laughs were loud and frequent, the audience well and truly on board.
All in all, Three in the bed is a highly enjoyable evening of musical entertainment. It won’t prompt you to leave the theatre pondering any of the great questions of today (other than, perhaps, why human beings behave so bizarrely), but it’s likely you’ll be entertained by the work of Holmes and his talented team. Musical theatre fans should check this out.
THREE IN THE BED – SEASON DETAILS
Dates: Playing September 8 and 9
Times: 7:30pm on September 8 and 9, and 2:00pm on September 9
Venue: King Street Theatre (corner King Street and Bray Street, Newtown)
Tickets: Adults $35, Concession $30, Groups 10+ $28
Tickets can be purchased here