Review by Carly Fisher
Feeling as much like a rock concert as a fringe show, the newly reopened stage at Hannah’s Playhouse is home to tonight’s Fringe show, A Lovely Day to be Online. Carried by the three strong group of talented musicians before us, this one hour musical comedy focuses on the complete dependence that we have on our phones and the way that this reliance has come to impact our lives. With technology nowadays playing into our love life, our social life, our work life and more, this show has much to discuss and clearly in no way struggles to find its audience. By the end of the first verse of lyrics, heads are nodding along in support - technology may be semi-evil, but gosh it would be hard to live without!
Leading the trio, Connor Morel is our consummate front man. He is exceptional behind both the keyboard and guitars he picks up but even more impressive as a vocalist. That he is a talented musician is in no way up for debate - his lyrics are clever and though funny, are poignant. He is a charismatic performer who I think knows his charm and unashamedly sets about using it. Between each song, he takes to the mic for the interjections of script that guide us from song to song, and though funny and natural, I think that it is only in these parts that he could up the anti a bit - he is just that bit too relaxed and as such, the script is not as tight as it could be. With a polish of the script, this show would feel comfortable in the big houses of Gluttony in Adelaide or even in Edinburgh as this show is the perfect fringe show. Simple but well executed, musical and a good time, highly relatable - you can see the tickets selling out now.
Backing him up, Kat Ades on base and Jake Pickering on percussion, are about as good as any band that you could hope for for a show like this. Expert at their instruments, the two ooze a coolness about them that is youthful, dynamic and contagious. They are wonderful to watch throughout - their passion seemingly guiding each pluck of the base’s strings or knock of the drum stick - and I found often that my attention was focused directly onto them. I think that in a future version of the show there would be room to grow the involvement of the two, particularly in the text between songs. Where Ades does get involved in this, she executes it well. I hope to see them both in more shows around the Australian stages soon!
Casey Gould has ensured that the show is well paced, the emotional beats well developed and the turns and surprises appropriately unforeseeable. As Director and co-dramaturge, Gould has certainly breathed effective light into this piece to ensure a noticeable shift in levity as the show progresses. This is a great achievement of the show and therefore, of Gould’s. Sarah Frencham is co-dramaturge and the Associate Director who is touring with the show and deserves as many of the congratulations as anyone else on the team. They are not easy roles, both too often being overlooked, but it is because of the development of the piece and work completed behind the scenes that the onstage performance is able to achieve all that it is.
With conversations surrounding being a keyboard warrior, schemes, socials, and more, the show has a lot to discuss and, outside of a fringe context, could probably afford to spend a bit more time unpacking some of these ‘tech traits’ to avoid almost laundry listing the problems of the tech space. Alternatively, again, just a bit more polish and finesse of the text between would elevate this show to a whole different space. Truly the only line I had to disagree with, as a Sydney-spider, was the little dig at not liking my hometown. I’ll forgive you Connor…but also, we have lots of great audiences so maybe give Sydney another go =).
Whether it chooses to follow that path in the future or not, right now, what we have is a highly entertaining, well executed show that highlights some of the best emerging Australian musical talents I think you will find. Many of these songs have a Tim Minchin quality to them and if that alone is not enough to make you buy a ticket, I urge you to please support shows like this that need to and deserve to be playing to full houses.
Hands down one of the best shows I saw at the New Zealand Fringe and Australia, you’ll have the opportunity to catch them at upcoming festivals so keep an eye out.