With this slick, one-woman musical, irrepressible comedienne Penny Ashton has produced a loving and amusing Austen parody. Directed by Ben Crowder and dressed in extravagant pink trimmed with turquoise by Elizabeth Whiting, Ashton energetically pulls more faces than Jennifer Lawrence on Oscar night, capably characterising nine individuals, including a young lady with a fabuwous upper class lisp, and a snob with a cat's bum mouth.
Her script includes mild innuendo, all the favourite P&P conventions and some clever lines such as "hurtling towards spinsterhood like the Prince Regent toward some cake".
Droll references abound, to "etiquette mistress Kimberline Kardashian", the great poet "William Joel" who wrote "Pianoforte Man" and so on, while Ashton's setting of Bon Jovi lyrics to Beethoven's Fifth Symphony leaves Moulin Rouge in the dust for effective anachronism. "Musical Maestro" Robbie Ellis offers an appealing soundtrack.
It's slightly too long, and the stage is slightly too large, and it's a truth universally acknowledged that Jane-mania officially jumped the shark with Pride and Prejudice finger puppets but, in the hands of Misses Ashton and Austen, this is an "attractive ball" of a show.
What: Promise & Promiscuity
Where and when: Tapac, Western Springs, to March 3
Green-mohawked Australian carny Captain Ruin (aka Mitch Jones) is very charming and mildly gross: he twirls his moustache, dances the Charleston and pees into a bucket. "If I've got a screw loose, it's up to me to fix it," he says and proceeds to stick a screwdriver up his nose.
His tricks involving a straitjacket, handcuffs and eggs are entertaining if basic, but this is more than a stunt act: the Captain strips off his evening dress to reveal his tattoos, and gives us lyrical snippets of personal, anarchist and hand-cuff history. For a "prisoner" who talks about the consequences of anger being "bruises and then a courtroom" because "anger in individuals is treated as a disease", Captain Ruin has a surprisingly low key, disarmingly affable, stylish and chatty persona.
Some of the Australian political references are obscure, and the unsatisfying ending peters out with a whimper, but the Captain is promising and original, and left us wanting more.
What: One Night Stand
Where and when: Basement Theatre, to March 2