Review By Lisa Lanzi
Tonight, Ange Lavoipierre was on stage for the first run of her show Your Mother Chucks Rocks and Shells at this year’s Adelaide Fringe. The Chapel is an intimate space, decked out superbly this year with small stage and good sound and lighting (apart from a bothersome headset mic that seemed to constantly refuse to stay in place for this genial performer). And just by the way, the courtyard of The Migration Museum now boasts a temporary, but gorgeous and solidly built YURT performance space with a dazzling array of Fringe gigs to experience within its walls.
An ABC journalist of more than decade and host/executive producer of Schmeitgeist, an ABC pop culture podcast about what's driving big trends, Lavoipierre possesses loads of spell as a live performer. She is a regular contributor on Radio National, ABC Radio Melbourne and Double/Triple J and the co-creator of the original sketch web series Impostors. Their delivery is relaxed but sparkling with wit and circuitous pondering.
This performer’s comedic musings on insomnia are relatable and laugh-out-loud. From conversations with voice-over characters such as ‘her (smart alec) brain’ (with charming French accent) and ‘the internet’, a slightly sexy (but “no, I’m not flirting with you”) female - all voiced by Jane Watt. Coincidentally, Ms Watt was in the front row, and with assistance from script-on-phone technology, was able to prompt our charismatic soloist when the gist was lost once or twice, and all done in an honest and affirming way. As Lavoipierre informs us “there are a lot of words in this show” - and that is certainly part of the charm here.
While well-crafted and intelligent, the text and narrative reads like stream-of-consciousness ramble with many a pointed reference to politics, gender, vegan trends, and social commentary. There is some physical comedy and gentle audience participation but the features are the performer’s stories, thoughts, and quirky ‘re-tells’ of ‘deleted’ The Exorcist movie scenes in the style of other movies. In fact the title of the show is lifted from a line in The Exorcist, but I’m not letting on how that particular interpretation comes about - but it is a winning moment!
The opening scene has Lavoipierre entering in sleep mask, short PJs and cardigan as The Beatles’ I’m So Tired plays. After some wrangling with a pillow, both solo and with audience assistance, the absurdist banter begins. Anyone who has experienced insomnia, whether chronically or on those occasions when your whirling thoughts keep your eyes open and your brain way too alert, will totally get this Fringe experience. I loved the random and ludicrous questions/memories ‘brain’ dredges up: “Remember the time that you….”, or “Why doesn’t anyone ever ask you to babysit…”. It’s 2am, then 2.01, then 2.03… and sleep comes, as do irrational dreams. Then, wakefulness AGAIN and the thought that this time you’ve been asleep for an age. But no, it is 2.05. Although I’m sure I have the ‘times’ wrong, you get the general snapshot. The meditation app episode is also memorable and goes way further with the absurdity.
There are around nine sessions of Your Mother Chucks Rocks and Shells playing this Fringe, and well worth a visit for some witty and intelligent comedy. There is also a double act playing elsewhere with Lavoipierre and Jane Watt in Jazz Or A Bucket Of Blood.
Support intelligent, funny females this Fringe! We’re worth it!