Review By Rosie Niven
Reading the title, Mullygrubs sparks a bit of confusion. Does it refer to the archaic definition, 'to complain or sulk', or are they speaking about that left-of-centre children's show from the 90s? Although the children's show is mentioned, it seems the inspiration for this dark comedy is a series of complaints. Presented by performers and writers Leah Filley and Harry Thompson, we bear witness to an exploration of friendship, mental health, and loss. Riding on the success of their Melbourne Fringe premiere, Mullygrubs sells us the promise of a comedy about the bleakness of life and the ever-overwhelming exhaustion that comes with being queer and/or a woman.
Mullygrubs takes us to the back room of a house party where we meet a pair of friends looking to escape the crowds. Reconnecting after a long time apart, the two banter back and forth about what they've been up to before delving into deeper topics as if no time had passed at all. The language is casual and easy to follow, as if we've been invited into a chat with old friends. References are relatable and we instantly feel comfortable with the two performers. There's some language however, that seems particularly unnecessary, and it's not the frequent swearing that flows out when Filley and Thompson express their disdain with the world. It's the jokes that are thrown in from Thompson to add 'shock value', like the particularly graphic phrase 'trying to push a late-term abortion through a kitchen sieve.' From the moment Thompson delivers this line, the performance immediately loses its charm.
The casual performance and style of dialogue makes it seem like Mullygrubs is geared towards a Gen Y audience - one that resonates with the gripes that both Filley and Thompson have about the world around them. Yet while we do resonate with discussions about nearing our 30s and the uncertainty around everything from relationships to our place in the universe, it feels like a conversation I would have with friends, rather than a performance I can come and engage with. Instead, Mullygrubs feels like a myriad of complaints with no end goal. There's plenty of great ideas and interesting themes, but delivered so off-handedly by the two performers it feels like a conversation I could have been privy to for free.
That said, there's a clever twist at the end of Mullygrubs that caught me by surprise, and was very well executed by Filley and Thompson. The two are strong performers with sharp wit and a penchant for strong dialogue, and I look forward to seeing what other works they'll bring to the stage. Hopefully something with less abortion jokes.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.