The unbearable rightness of being young and silly
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The unbearable rightness of being young and silly

Ich Nibber Dibber
Nat Rose, Mish Grigor, and Zoe Coombs Marr
Malthouse Theatre
Until September 23
★★★★
REVIEWER: Cameron Woodhead

Together Nat Rose, Mish Grigor and Zoe Coombs Marr make up post, a Sydney-based performance group with a playful approach to theatrical convention.

Indeed, I seem to recall dying repeatedly onstage, along with a bunch of fellow drama critics, as part of their 2015 show Oedipus Schmoedipus – a comic dismantling of death and the theatrical canon performed with a cast of volunteers.

Natalie Rose, Mish Grigor and Zoe Coombs Marr in Ich Nibber Dibber.

Natalie Rose, Mish Grigor and Zoe Coombs Marr in Ich Nibber Dibber.

Photo: Jacquie Manning

This time, they’ve got the stage all to themselves, and they’re determined to use every inch of it, with an inspired opening sequence that sees the trio floating in the ether, dressed in the billowing white robes of the Muses. You just know a deflation will come the moment a word is spoken.

These are three of the funniest women in the country, and they’re also self-deprecating and savage with each other in the way only fast friends from youth can be.

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Both qualities come to the fore in Ich Nibber Dibber, a whimsical reflection on their friendship (the title is a nonsense expression, used to mark a sort of upper limit for the in-jokes and navel-gazing that come hand in hand with such intimacy) that in any other hands might be dismissed as, well, chronic oversharing.

There’s a delicious wit, an ironic gleam to the banter – this is a show that seems to riff off random chats with the overheard quality of verbatim theatre – that begs your indulgence. The no-holds-barred approach offers plenty of quirky and sometimes ribald material, and it’s effortlessly delivered to maximise hilarity.

One moment you’ll get scatological tales from childbirth, where the performers talk about pooing on babies with the same gross-out glee as the kids in South Park, the next you’ll slide into the kind of idle sophistry only university students can engage in, full of silly ideas that seemed like gold at the time.

Or you might get humiliating anecdotes, errant observations about life, sex, growing older, pop culture. (You name it, they talk about it: there’s even a critical analysis of Pretty Woman.) In fact, there’s a whole vomit-lined tapestry of misspent youth in this sinuous and wide-ranging gabfest, one that lingers just behind the performer’s smirks at the memory of it.

Rose, Grigor and Coombs Marr know each other so well they time everything to perfection, as if they were one goddess with three heads.

Ich Nibber Dibber is brilliant, irreverent, autobiographical theatre that verges on stand-up comedy (or, at this stage of their careers, sit-down-on-a-high-stool comedy). It will make you laugh and think, and remind you what a ridiculous and necessary thing it is to be young.