Review By Tessa Stickland
Alice Tovey's Not Like The Other Ghouls — introduced as 'Frankenstein's Palace' dinner theatre, with a star studded line-up — is actually a fantastic cabaret-esque solo performance.
This show is filled with niche jokes about horror films, the queer experience, and AMC Theatres.
I wouldn't describe myself as a horror fan — though I did some film studies at uni, and I love anything camp — so I might know a little more than the average non-horror punter. Still, I think you'll still get a kick out of this even if you only have a passing knowledge of horror, because Tovey's joy in describing the odd little details is funny. Besides, a lot of that is more a vessel to talk about themes of self-identity, gender, fear, and more.
Centre stage, in the Malthouse Theatre's Tower Room, is a circular projector screen. I love Tovey's use of this.
She uses it as a standard projector for a few visual aids, but its primary use is during her songs. She uses a combination of movie clips and trippy visuals to create music videos that underscore each song.
She stands in front of the screen, with projections falling on to her face and body. It's visually striking.
The songs are interspersed between sections of stand-up (/direct audience address). The projections make these sections distinct from each other, giving a visual cue to go along with the change in tone between the sections - of which the songs are typically moodier.
The first few songs have quite a few jokes in them. But as the show goes on, the songs are less joke-heavy and take on a more sincere tone.
Tovey's voice is stunning. It perfectly fits the cabaret style and elevates her ideas.
Combined with the projections, she sort of transports us to another place. It's captivating.
I particularly enjoyed Tovey's nuanced discussion of gender. It really hit home for me. She was able to articulate a feeling I've always struggled to articulate myself.
Part of the difficulty there is that there is this intangible part of gender that probably can't ever be put into words.
So she uses song and metaphor to bridge the gap between words and feeling.
There is one small issue I had with the show - but I chalk it down to being opening night.
There is a 'spooky' voice that plays a few times in the show. It's a bit hard to make out the words, but at first it's not integral.
However, there's a turning point where there is a lot of back and forth between Tovey and this recorded voice. But there's so much echo-y distortion that it's hard to understand, which I felt took away from the jokes and the overall meaning being conveyed.
It's so much about Tovey's vulnerability and sincerity - so it's lost when the full conversation can't be understood.
But this is a relatively easy fix. And might even be due to where I was sitting in the theatre, or the particular theatre and audio set-up.
And finally, I'd me remiss if I didn't mention the outfits. They're camp. They're queer. They're horror movie host. It's delightful and big and glittery! And, as it gets stripped back, so does Tovey's level of vulnerability; from performative (in character) to something very real and open. And that's scary. Like a horror movie. Right there on my TV in the theatre.