Half a Person: My Life as Told by The Smiths | Fly-On-The-Wall TheatrePhotos - GB Photography

Elvis is Elvis. Interesting, vibrant and charismatic enough to warrant impersonation, of course, but distinctive enough to remain stationed alone above a sea of clones. By the same token, Morrissey is Morrissey, an even harder caricature to nail given his ambiguous cultural and sexual tendencies.

Given then that personifying Steven Patrick Morrissey is as easy as snaring a greased pig in a linoleum corridor, the vast majority of would-be impersonators fall somewhere in the category of ‘just another camp haircut’, twirling carnations around their heads like a schoolgirl on acid. Unfortunately for Mark Taylor, he finds himself firmly entrenched in this group while performing Alex Broun’s Half a Person: My Life As Told By The Smiths.

Not that the show is a mere tribute to the lead singer of the once mighty band. In fact it’s actually a pleasingly novel concept; a play inspired by the lyrics of Smiths song ‘William, It Was Really Nothing’, detailing the misanthropic mishaps of love lorn Melburnian protagonist (unsurprisingly named William), with every twist accompanied by an appropriate rendition of a number from the Manchester groups canon.

Sadly, however, the concept fails to deliver in practice what it promises in theory. The transitions between narrative and song are often clumsy, sometimes non-existent, while Taylor delivers the same awkward, stilted performance at each interlude.

His acting style is much more likeable, delivering hackneyed quotations with great aplomb, but his comic timing is as hit-and-miss as the script which lurches from delicate prose to boorish, improbable conversation throughout.

As a single actor onstage alone for the entirety of the (overlong) performance, Taylor can be forgiven for the occasional rushed joke or missed opportunity for drama. At times he is even very enthralling to watch, particularly when the drollness of the script emerges from wherever it was hiding.

The mysterious nature of the other alluded-to characters in the plot (especially that of the agenda-toting Rick), combined with the gratefully authentic piped soundtrack courtesy of Simon Polinski and Colin Berwick keep the audience interested, but ultimately the show fails to convince as a cohesive blend of fiction and tribute.

Summed up by the bemusing decision to perform an irrelevant single-track encore when the night had already come to a much more satisfactory conclusion, Half A Person… may tickle the fancy of Smiths fans in need of a brush up, but should do little to amuse the rest.

Fly-On-The-Wall Theatre presents
HALF A PERSON: My Life As Told By The Smiths
by Alex Broun

Directed by Robert Chuter

Venue: Loft, Chapel Off Chapel | 12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran, Victoria 3181
Dates: 20 - 30 May, 2010
Times: Wed - Sat 8pm, Sun 6:30pm and Sat matinees 2pm
Tickets: $28 Full and $24 Concession (+ Transaction fee)
Duration: 90 minutes (no interval)
Bookings: 8290 7000 | www.chapeloffchapel.com.au

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