With words like bilious, ether, capers and whimsy, and tasks involving bedazzling the culottes and defrosting the parrots, it’s impossible not to love Ethel Chop. Her boorish manner, ridiculous-beyond-description glasses and abhorrence of the younger generation are all part of the fun.
Ethel (aka queen of characterisation Andrea Powell), Australia’s favourite octogenarian, has been insulting radio, theatre and TV audiences for quite some years now and she doesn’t disappoint in Ethel Chop & Chums at The Dog Theatre in Footscray.
Ethel Chop & Chums is an interview-style variety show, replete with games and audience interaction – like Michel Parkinson and Rove McManus but better, according to Ethel. For instance, the Craft Time segment features a conjoined twins hand puppet where one of the twins has sadly died and the other is slowly dying of septicemia… a great idea for entertaining the kiddies in the school holidays.
Despite the wondrous amount of polyester and abused lipstick, it’s Ethel’s voice that’s so very compelling. No one mimics that Grandmother squawk quite as well as Powell. It’s put to use perfectly in Ethel Chop & Chums as Ethel’s Granddaughter (played by the impressively poker-faced Geraldine Hickey) receives the brunt of Ethel’s tough love, as well as being the bringer of sherry and custard tarts and the general downtrodden side-kick.
Ethel Chop defies definition. She’s an enigma wrapped in synthetic paisley wrapped in a time warp. Her show needs to be seen to fully appreciate its uniqueness. As Ethel herself said on Saturday night, “Other Fringe shows wouldn’t know entertainment if it flew out their bums and ate their faces.” You see? How can you not love that sort of brutal honesty? Go on, go and see Ethel. You know you want to. A word of advice, though: don’t sit in the front row…
2011 Melbourne Fringe Festival
Ethel Chop and Chums
Performed and Devised by Andrea Powell
Venue: The Dog Theatre at Footscray Town Hall | Cnr Napier & Hyde St, Footscray
Dates: 21 Sept – 8 Oct, 2011
Tickets: $25.00 – $15.00