Cult classic in the making
By Bradley Storer
Like murder? Mystery? One Direction? If you said yes to any/all of these, then Pop|Press at Melbourne Fringe 2015 is definitely the show for you!
Filled to the brim with pop-culture allusions, the comically convoluted story mashes together a charismatic boy band member leaving to go solo, the disappearance and possible murder of an Australian female rapper and the machinations of a morally ambiguous corporation into a mysterious Illuminati-like conspiracy, tied together by the narration of an investigative journalist’s podcast.
William Hannigan brings a low-key, smouldering magnetism to the role of Heath Row, the defector from major boy band Se7en Moments of Malibu, aided by a wondrous pop voice that channels the aching emotionalism and twangy falsetto of every modern tween male pop idol. His compositions for the show truly do hit the ear as modern pop hits, with melodies that make you bop in your seat but with lyrics that niggle at the brain.
Another highlight is Michelle Brasier as rapper Igloo Fantasia, an Iggy Azalea rip-off combined with a gutsy Gaga-esque belt. Her rendition of feminist revenge anthem ‘Manspread’ is still caught in my head! Behind both these leads is an incredibly versatile ensemble, who skilfully double as the various other characters as well as back-up dancers and singers.
When the scene changes aren’t accompanied by the serial-spoofing narration, transitions can be a little clumsy, and as the story picks up pace and tensions mount the songs can start to feel a little superfluous. One particular number, a ballad mourning the death of a goldfish – although hilariously and thrillingly belted out by Brasier – seems to come out of nowhere and doesn’t seem to contribute significantly to the story.
These small quibbles aside, Pop|Press is a delight for lovers of pop (both musical and mainstream) culture, with a score that will leave you humming the tunes long after you’ve left the venue.
Dates: Friday 18th September – Friday 25th September
Venue: The Ballroom, Lithuanian Club, 44 Errol St, North Melbourne.
Time: 10:30pm (9:30 Sundays)
Price: Full $22.50, Conc. $18, Group (6+) $20, Cheap Tuesday $18
Bookings: www.melbournefringe.com.au, 03 9660 9666, at the door.