Review By Tessa Stickland
I love this show.
Oooh, it’s Melbourne Fringe time, baby!
This is everything I love in a show. It’s funny, dramatic, theatrical, silly, curious, poetic, dumb, and everything.
It tickles both theatre and comedy parts of my brain.
If you’re familiar with The Butterfly Club and the type of shows they usually have, Haha Fair Enough fits in perfectly. It’s the type of performance that wouldn’t be out of place at La Mama (HQ); as writer-performers India Alessandra and Ivana Brehas have the same eclectic energy.
I hate to use a show’s blurb verbatim, but Alessandra and Brehas have it clear, succinct, and accurate when they describe Haha Fair Enough as an “experimental, cabaret-inflected creation Frankensteined out of monologues, stand-up routines, sketch comedy, burlesque, live singing and more.”
They know what their show is and they know where it fits in, so you’re in good hands.
Alessandra and Brehas oscillate between sincerity and irony. They’re more earnest than a typical comedy show, but comedy going audiences won’t find them as intimidating as a straight theatre piece.
If you’re not sure how theatre-y you’re comfortable with, this is a great place to dip your toes in the water. Even if you don’t end up loving the dramatic monologues like I do, there is plenty of wacky stuff going on that you’ll still have a great time.
(And I suppose vice versa, if you’re a theatre person who doesn’t normally like comedy, you’ll still be able to get into this.)
One of the first monologues is a great tone setter. The lighting shifts from generic stage lighting to moody, theatrical lighting — bathing Brehas in dark blue. It’s fitting for the more serious monologue, as the show to that point errs on the sillier side.
I knew going in that Haha Fair Enough wasn’t stand-up or high octane sketch comedy — but the placement of the monologue and the use of lighting were a great indicator for where we’re going and what to expect going forward.
I don’t want to spoil the opening fully, but let's say that there may or may not be a false start/trick opening. If there were, I’d be particularly impressed by the way Brehas pulls it off.
Another thing within this section that I won’t tell you the specifics of (because I want you to see it for yourself) is a small set up to a gag that pays off at the end of the show. I remember seeing the set-up item and thinking, “haha, wouldn’t it be funny if they did X. Oh, but it looks like they’re not. Oh well.”
And then at the end... It happened. And I was thrilled.
Haha Fair Enough features a few songs and dances. I adore the original songs. They’re funny and they slap.
They also use existing music for some choreographed dancing. These dance elements are fun, but they could’ve been stronger. More complex or punchy choreography would’ve created more “oomf” moments. It was teetering on the edge of lacklustre.
This was saved in part by some ‘housekeeping’ at the start, where the audience were encouraged to “woo” and make some noise during the dances to come. We happily obliged, and I’m glad we did, because it kept the energy and engagement up during the dances.
The dances are good, but the pacing of the choreography isn’t maximised for gaps to cheer in.
Haha Fair Enough is an “exploration of what it is to live in a body”. It’s a great theme threading the show together.
It’s not so in your face that you have to pay attention. You could gloss over the themes and just enjoy each scene for what it is. But for the literature analysis students, it's an opportunity to Eat Up. From gender and body dysmorphia, to taking agency over one’s body via exerting control over the bodies of others, to the exploitation of bodies. It’s a buffet of ideas!
Some scenes might have a point to make, but for the most part it’s pure exploration: tossing around ideas and seeing what sticks. There’s not an ‘agenda’ being pushed. It’s not not political — but it’s not preachy.
Alessandra and Brehas are both captivating performers, whether in a scene together or alone. They hold a slice of poetry-cake and comedy-cake and let you eat both. This experimental work demands to be listened to.