By Kerrie Batrouney
Filled with personal experiences, I’m not even mad about it celebrates the man Luke has become as he grapples in song, puppetry and poetry with his reality of being a kid in country Victoria. Written, produced and performed by Luke Belle, it is a musical journey through the traumas of growing up different! Luke is a skilled storyteller and singer and shares with us events from his childhood which have obviously stayed with him and molded the person he has become. I found this show a powerful rollercoaster of emotions and entertainment.
Luke is a great singer and he switches smoothly through show tunes, Gilbert & Sullivan, power ballads and Disney, his lyrics amusing and sad at the same time. He blasts off with “I don’t fit in, I’m not the boy next door, I don’t belong like I did before”, in the style of Boy from Oz, including the maracas.
The show recounts his life as a quiet person with a creative soul growing up as a misfit and labeled 'a boy with an attitude problem' by his stepfather. He was someone who dreamed of entertaining people by singing, dancing and making them laugh. Luke portrays a vulnerable character, someone who loved spending time with his Nan, a lover of fragrant soaps and wool.
To summarise the show into just a few words would be to describe it as being moving, emotional, funny, poignant, ridiculous, sad, unexpected, Australian and very relatable. One minute the audience is silently emotive, as he describes his very turbulent relationship with his mum and dad and stepdads, the next the joyful recounting of growing up in a country town. For my partner this was all spookily familiar as he grew up in the same town and went to the schools and places mentioned - for him it was a little too familiar.
Luke manages to combine lighthearted and funny themes with deep themes of rejection, moving effortlessly between the two. The crazy excitement every January when it comes time to fulfill the stationery list for the upcoming school year will resonate with every Australian. There was the dichotomy of serious sounding songs, sung in a serious style, with frivolous subjects, silly songs dedicated to his girlfriend’s grandma, favourite pen, his search for a spanner, boarding school, then storytelling to chronicle the traumas of going bald, getting kicked out of home, not knowing his father. Continuously maintaining an upbeat and engaging humour, the reminiscing, was a delicious, sad, moving, relatable, joyful tale from the country.
Luke was supported by Steven McMahon over to the side playing the piano and backup singing. He skillfully supplied mood music as directed. Backup dancers Slinky and Klinky Malinki made a brief appearance in their fabulous coordinated jumpsuits.
I’m not even mad about it is playing at The Butterfly Club, a small thriving theatre in the heart of Melbourne. The club, established 20 years ago, has a number of shows every night, some regular weekly events and others just for a night or two. The bars are decked out in an enormous collection of kitsch, a conversation starter, there’s always something new to see.
Now that his stepfather is dead, Luke is not even mad about it. I certainly felt mad on his behalf and so I believe did the rest of the audience, it was a real and moving experience, despite the lighthearted presentation. I came away thoroughly liking the person Luke has become.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.