Review : Choir of Man at the Arts Centre, Melbourne

Review by Kerrie Batrouney


I was in a great mood as I walked to the Arts Centre on New Year’s Eve and when I got into the theatre that only improved. The stage was set up as a typical British pub, we were welcomed by the performers like old friends and offered a drink. Most of the audience were up on the stage having a drink and chat. There was someone on the piano and many calls of “cheers”. I had a chat with Hobbs, who recognised my English accent, we bonded over how great the weather was in Australia!


So, the scene is The Jungle Pub, there are nine guys who make up a pub choir, The Choir of Man. They are Tom, Guy, Mikey, John, Tom, Ben, James, George and Hobbs. I don’t feel like anyone deserves a special mention, they are all excellent. Each person adds slightly different talents and all are allowed to shine at some part in the show. This is not a traditional choir, a range of instruments are used and since there are so many people on stage we are kept riveted the whole time. The instruments in play include ukulele, banjo, drums, piano, oboe, whistle, violin and guitar. There is also some excellent tap dancing, our attention is cleverly drawn from one person to the next. The whole cast are versatile and skillful.


The songs are loosely pulled together by a chatty narrator waxing lyrical about the great British neighbourhood pub. They are just nine ordinary guys down the pub while dancing and singing their way through a diverse bunch of songs. The songs included sing and clap-along, folk, old and new, very well known by artists such as John Farnham (is it cynical of me to suspect that it has been added to the show just for the Australian audience?), Adele, Katy Perry, Beatles, Sia, Andy Williams, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and more. All songs are enhanced with beautiful harmonies as you would expect from a choir, there is some a Capella but that’s where the similarities to a traditional choir end.


The Choir of Man have been touring since they started at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2017, it is a polished performance. There is a certain amount of audience participation, for a couple of the songs, several people are willingly pulled up onto the stage to act as props for the song where they play along as pub regulars.


The performance is a fun night out, the Choir work hard to keep us entertained, they are having a good time and so are we. They are big advocates of the local pub, a place where you can hang out, make friends without there necessarily being a purpose or agenda, where you can just be. They really try to make us feel like we are their friends already, reminding me more of the fictional bar Cheers than a British pub, but I don’t mind that! I don’t feel there is any deep and meaningful message or moral that I need to understand, it is a heart-warming, enjoyable night out. The Choir of Man are in Australia until mid-April, they are touring all over, even Dubbo.

Image Credit: David and Chris Cann


All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.

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