By Tara Ramsay
Mettle, Moxie & Melody takes us on a musical journey of the lives of three women, Renae (Courtney Farrar), a young mother whose husband is lost in the video game abyss, Stella (Merilee Ettia) who is stuck in a corporate wasteland but dreams of making music and Evie (Zoe Lee Archer) who has a new love but is struggling to come out to her conservative mother.
The show opens with all characters on stage, in their separate spaces and the opening song gives us an insight into each of their lives. It’s well executed and there is no confusion between the characters, which can often happen with so many people on stage, especially when there is music involved. There are a number of giggles from the audience because there are so many relatable moments and we get that whilst they are living separate lives all of the women want more.
The soundtrack is piano heavy and at times overpowers some of the quieter voices - there are 15 original songs, ranging from ballads to upbeat show tunes and there is even a poetry slam thrown in for good measure. A few times throughout the night we could hear some techno music booming from the show in the next room and it always seemed to be in the most intimate moments, but the actors all did well to not let it distract them.
It’s a small space and the staging is kept simple, a couch, a few chairs and a bassinet, which works well because it doesn’t crowd the intimate space and plenty of room is left for the dance numbers. All the actors assist with moving staging and props when required. It was well choreographed and worked into the show, so it never looked out of place.
Stella (Merilee Ettia), had a lovely stage presence and was a standout for me, I am not sure if it’s because she was the character I related to most...I mean, who doesn’t love removing their bra as soon as you get home from work?! The great thing about this show, is that it is relatable, even though some of the characters situations are exaggerated experiences, there are flickers of relatability and honesty in all of the story arcs.
The ensemble cast also did a fabulous job, with actors playing multiple roles - Evie’s Mum & The Doctor (Juanita Van Wyk), also the musical director, had a captivating energy about her and when she started singing, we were all entranced. The husbands - Josh and Ben were both played by the only male in the cast, Lawson Schafer, who I believe only came on 4 weeks before showtime, and although he had different costumes on to differentiate each character, he also did a great job at using physicality so the change from Josh to Ben was obvious. Evie’s girlfriend Kate (Clarise Ooi) and their roommate (Taylor Jean Day) who also led the poetry slam were both strong performers and really complemented the main cast, making an appearance in all of the dance numbers. And finally I loved the super perky, condescending boss played by show creator Anina-Marie Warrener, who is a Brisbane local and wrote the book, music and lyrics.
There is a lot of swift cutting from scene to scene throughout the show and there were moments when I was just getting a feel for the characters story and then as quick as it started it would switch back again. I would have liked to have seen some of the moments extended and slowed down.
This strong cast and crew from ‘Mettle, Moxie & Melody’ gave us an intimate look into the lives of three women who are all in one way or another feeling ‘stuck’ and who can’t relate to that?
The harmonies when the cast sang together were so perfect, I would have thought they had been singing together for years as they blended so well and it was spot on every time. My favourite song was the show’s title song - ‘Mettle, Moxie & Melody’ that was played at the end of the show and had all cast members singing into hair brushes. It was a song that expressed the women’s new found strengths, as the lyrics say ‘a damsel in distress became a dragon in a dress’ and I think that sums up the show perfectly.
Mettle, Moxie & Melody is part of the Anywhere Festival in Queensland, lots to see and do so check it out!
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.