Tag: Melbourne Comedy Festival 2016

MICF 2016: Seemingly Evil Productions Presents WILLY WANKA

Never a Dahl moment

By Narelle Wood

The title of both the production company, Seemingly Evil Productions, and the show, Willy Wanka, was incredibly enticing; it seemed like an easy comedy combination of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and spoof comedy.

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The storyline of Willy Wanka follows closely that of the original. Poor boy wins tour of mystical chocolate factory with several other bratty children, meanwhile Wanka is being undermined by one of his employees, Slugsworth. The show only really deviates in the breviety of each scene and Wanka is a child-hating imbecile. For the most part the comedy comes from over-exaggerating the creepiness that was much more subtle in the original. The Oompa Loompas are an oppressed race, working in slave-like conditions and are easily dispensable, Charlie’s mother is void of personality, Charlie himself is largely ignored due to his poverty and the four grandparents have an unusual relationship having spent more than 20 years together in bed.

The show is well cast. Amongst the standouts are the overly-enthusaistic Charlie (Sam Garlepp), eerie Grandpa Joe (Lachie McKenzie) and Willy Wanka (Will Reinehr).  Several actors play multiple characters and these are exceptionally well done, especially those created by Clare Rankine and John Liacopoulos, who not only change between several characters super quickly, but also momentarily change costumes and accents as well. Vocal performances during the musical moments, such as those from Melissa Tracina and Alice Tovey, were also very strong and I would have been keen to hear more musical numbers throughout the show.

It was opening night so there were a few small glitches, however the flying Oompa Loompa received one of the biggest laughs of the night. But that’s not to say the planned comedy wasn’t funny because it mostly was. There were a few times that they went for shock-factor humour, which I’m personally not a fan of. The best bits were the scenes with the Oompa Loompas, the use of flashbacks and the reworking of some of the original songs. That said, I couldn’t help but think there was more that could have been made of all these scenes and the promising Wanka character, had the pace been a smidge snappier.

Willy Wanka is an entertaining parody of the original, but as its title indicates, is certainly not a reworking that would be suitable for children. It is definitely worth a look if you like irrevent humour and children’s stories that flirt with and sometimes succumb to the darker side of comedy.

Venue: Trades Hall, Cnr Lygon and Victoria Sts, Carlton

Season: Until April 3rd, Tue-Sat 7pm, Sun 6pm

Tickets: Full $23 Conc $17

Bookings: www.willywanka.com.au or at the door

MICF 2016: The Big Hoo-Haa’s CLIFFHANGER

Perfect com fest fun

By Narelle Wood

For 10pm on a Thursday night the downstairs theatre of The Butterfly Club was fairly busy having gathered to see The Big Hoo-Haa’s Melbourne Comedy Festival show Cliffhanger. I quickly discovered that I was a Big Hoo-Haa novice amongst a sea of regular attendees. The audience was super-enthusiastic and so were the selection of the night’s players.


The premise for the 60-minute show is 5 improvised stories, each stopped at a cliffhanger moment. Each round a story is eliminated until there is only one story left and the audience are treated to the story’s finale. There is one problem though: there are 6 players on stage, so the elimination begins with a rap battle between the two teams, Hearts and Bones, to see which team will begin with the improvisation advantage.

Silliness and laughter prevail as we were treated to stories of murder with The Tuna Fish Killer, the epic battle between cat and helicopter, a romance found and lost on a scooter, a famous five quest to find a sock and a high-seas adventure with scurvy. While each of the stories was highly entertaining, it was the tale of cat versus helicopter that took out the prize of ultimate cliffhanger. And there was a moral to the story too; cats were never supposed to be friends with anything that flies.

With different stories every performance and the possibility of a number of comedic combinations from the Big Hoo-Haa cast the only guarantee is that the show will be funny. The wit and timing of cast members such as Mark Gambino, Candice D’Arcy, Sarah Reuben and Sophie Kneebone were perfectly complimented by the remarkable musical skill of JJ on the keyboard.

The 60 minutes flew by with clever harmless comedy resulting in lots of guffaws and chuckles of delight. But be warned, exposure to this sort of humour may cause repeat attendance.

Venue: The Butterfly Club, Carson Place, Melbourne

Season: 10pm Tues, Thurs, Sat until April 16th

Tickets: Full $29

Bookings: www.thebutterflyclub.com