Eurobeat - Almost Eurovision Book by Craig Christie. Music and lyrics by Craig Christie and Andrew Patterson. Directed by Emma Tattam. Musical director Emma White. Choreography by Jordan Kelly. SUPA Productions Inc.
ANU Arts Centre. April 5-20
Eurobeat - Almost Eurovision is a hair-letting-down piece that allows a theatre group to indulge itself. No romance, no sinking ocean liners, just a full tilt assault on the strange phenomenon of the Eurovision Song Contest.
The parody is often basic in its wit and there is not much memorable music but it's an amiable way to spend a couple of hours and this production is clearly out to have fun with it all.
The first half is the contest itself, with 15 countries taking part amid the tensions of host city Sarajevo. The interval is long, for voting, and the winner gives a repeat performance in the second half.
You can even use your smartphone to do the voting. I have vague memories of a production of this show a while back where one night Liechtenstein's impenetrable avant-garde style won but it was Ireland's La La La, given a world-disdaining pseudo Irish performance by Cameron Gill, that, with some justice, got the attention of the opening night's audience.
National stereotypes, lurid lighting and suitably awful costumes abound. The Germans do an ode to beer, the Greeks tap into classical mythology, the French do food and love together, the Hungarians go for some incomprehensible folk song, the Norwegians do a huge Viking number, Iceland parodies Bjork and Britain makes us forget that they once gave us Puppet on a String by presenting a bumbling song that seems barely rehearsed.
The show must go on because the cameras are relaying it to the world but all is not always happiness in Eurouniverse. It is sometimes noticeable that not all of the performers are in harmony with each other and particularly noticeable that hosts Sergei (Lachlan Ruffy) and Boyka (Sarah Golding) don't quite seem to have found the same song sheet.
Only a script probably read from an autocue seems to unite them as Boyka struggles with her English pronunciation and Sergei reaches more for the bottle and the odd offstage liaison.
Ruffy and Golding hold the show together well but there's nothing more deep going on than the personal tensions that emerge, often wordlessly, in some of the acts.
Even the stage crew start to become mildly bolshie, an element that could have been made more of. It's a bit of a one-joke show and it needs sharpness to help an audience forget that.
Those for whom Eurovision is a not-so-guilty pleasure and an excuse for a party round the TV will love this tribute.