babesSet on the eve of federation, the still current fears of colonial Australia are writ large in this play within a play within a play. The Malthouse Theatre, led by director Michael Kantor, revels in the so-bad-its-good gaudiness of pantomime with this latest production of Babes In The Wood, written by Tom Wright. Babes In The Wood is presented with all the absurd enthusiasm and boundless vigour expected of a tweenie at a boy band appearance.
Ostensibly this play is the story of a cheap, somewhat desperate, vaudevillian troop touring the Australian countryside, performing a rousing pantomime, which espouses the wonders of this great land and its noble white tribe. Peppered with references to our current political climate, it is also a sharp satire aimed at empirialism, war, historical revisionism, world leadership, terrorism, celebrity and more!
This is a gloriously coarse and vulgar production, which hurtles at full speed from beginning to end. The company of peerformers, led by the now iconic Max Gillies, is a spectacularly cohesive and vigorous one.  I cant honestly single out any one performer as they were all sublime.
Designer and Lighting designer Anna Tregloan and Paul Jackson, respectively, once again achieve spectacular and creative results. Costumes are alive with detailed character and quirky humour, and I especially enjoyed the nasty kangaroo. These two designers don't seem to ever get it wrong, fantastic.  There is also some delightfully awkward choreography from Kate Denborough, perhaps channelling the dubious spirit of 80s disco.
Singing and dancing their way through an eccentric score from Iain Grandage, incuding an array of cheesy hits (think Air Supply) and original Eddie Perfect songs, the cast of Babes In The Wood generously present the audience with an evening of outrageous, intelligent, tasteless and uproarious theatre. All the while peering into our own national heritage, to both embrace and revile it. Asking the question, is our colonial history far enough in the past for us to be able to honestly say, to coin a phrase, its behind you!?
Babes In The Wood is at its best when it is so thoroughly bad its terrific.

Venue: Merlyn Theatre, CUB Malthouse
Season Details: November 16 – December 2 2006
Previews: Thursday 16 November & Friday 17 November 8pm
Opening: Saturday 18 November 8.00pm
Performance Times: Tuesdays 6.30pm, Wednesdays to Saturdays 8.00pm, Sunday 5.30pm
Matinee – Thursday 23 November 1pm, Saturday 25 November & 2 December 2.00pm.
Tickets: $15 - $45 + booking fee
Bookings: Malthouse Box Office 9685 5111 |

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