> David Johnston *

Meet Mel Malarkey, Depression-era vaudevillian. They’re hosting one final show before the theatre is sold. Mel is delightful, but a little exhausting. Mel plays the musical saw! Mel feuds with donkeys! Mel recites love odes to an elephant woman! Mel screams! A lot!

Also, Mel has an invisible coatrack in their dressing room. Between sets, Mel repeatedly attempts to hang elaborate costumes, only to have every element fall into a heap.

Some metaphors are just too obvious.

And yet… I laughed at the invisible coatrack. And the screaming. And the odes are unexpectedly affecting. The productionis a glorified disaster, but it revels in its excess.

Perhaps even more variety in this variety show would help. Maybe fewer spoken word routines? There are many. Still, star Charlie Petch is so winning and aggressively joyful that, ultimately, Mel Malarkey feels like a triumph, even as everything falls to pieces.

Remaining performances at Performance Works on September 13 (5 p.m.), and 15 (4:35 p.m.) > David Johnston


* This is a guest review.

David Johnston is a Vancouver-based actor, aerialist, and writer, not in that order. He recently hailed from the Edmonton Fringe, where he saw many excellent shows and also ate a green onion cake. The green onion cake got three-and-a-half stars. David is a recent graduate of Studio 58, and is currently writing a script about reviews, so this should be a rather meta experience. He’s delighted to join FRESH SHEET for the Vancouver Fringe.


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About Colin Thomas

Colin Thomas is a Vancouver-based editor, an award-winning playwright, and an established theatre critic. Colin helps writers unlock the full potential of their novels, short stories, screenplays, and children's books.

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