3's Company, 2's A Party | Fresh Out The FringeIt took a bit of research to put this review together. Firstly finding out who the cast actually was! There was no programme and the Fringe Brochure omitted any cast names, or even the names of the 3 characters they portrayed.

Billed as Fresh out the Fringe, with a quote from the redoubtable Dave Callan which encouraged us to "Go see! I saw this production in Edinburgh and was in absolute stitches". I needed no encouragement to attend. However, research on the Edinburgh show revealed a cast of 3 women, not 2 women and a man as seen in the Perth Fringe. It was therefore rather difficult to gauge which parts of the show had lead Dave to bid us thither.

It would be hard to imagine the 3rd Edinburgh female cast member could have possibly performed several of the extraordinarily clever physical routines that the male artist, Joseph Simons, treated us to on opening night.

The show was staged in a room in the Treasury Building in the centre of the Perth CBD. An historic building now under restoration orders, it was granted to the Fringe Festival as a secondary group of venues for the first time this year. The Cabaret Room was problematical. It was just that, a room. No rake and level seats made for difficult viewing, especially when some of the physical gymnastics were performed on the unraised stage at floor level.

Seated in the third row, I was behind a row of six reserved seats in the name of Tarryn and Ron Duncan. After being effusively welcomed with kisses at the door the audience took their seats to watch the Duncan group being welcomed with champagne, because, it was explained, Tarryn and Ron "had donated a wad of cash".

To the classic strippers' number, the confident brunette Helen and hesitant redhead Quin entered and staged a mock opening intro  which they abandoned for a slightly better second try accompanied by Joe on microphone. He segued into minutes of feigned solo hysterical laughter, some of which elicited a mild audience response. Joe then undertook a lengthy, amusingly nonsensical Python-esque monologue of "safety announcements".

The first sign of this man's amazing dance/mime talent was apparent in the next sequence when he created a memorable series of exaggerated dance moves to a Latin-inspired tune. Absolutely deadpan facially, he created a perfect pastiche of the over-the-top rock clips so often seen on You-Tube and MTV.

A clever device was the use of voice-overs to which the artists created appropriate and often highly inappropriate silent dance routines. I felt this was their best use of their considerable ensemble and single skills but of course it depended on the subjects being treated and the wit of the writing.

There was a very funny relaxation/meditation tape item. But the undoubted highlight of the show was a brilliant piece executed by Joe to an excruciatingly accurate and hysterically funny Customer Service Hotline recording. As the automated message blandly insulted the caller in every possible manner he replicated the movements of each instruction with flamboyant gestures and lithe moves. In the case of the requested "now enter the 16 digit pin number" it could be called numerically repetitive, interpretive dance.  

This was followed by a wonderful interpretation of the Frank Iifield yodelling song, by which stage some audience members were literally weeping with laughter.

Less successful were the items performed by Helen and Quin that followed. They are both undeniably excellent dancers but after the previous numbers they failed to elicit the same abandoned audience reaction.

There was a rather wonderful dance interpretation of the John Paul Young song Love is in the Air. Also a good drunken dance number, performed by Helen with the narration mimed by Quin, covering the vicissitudes of picking up men in bars; "Your place or mine?" Also a very well executed solo to a wartime song From the Time You Say Goodbye.

Perhaps more consideration could be given to programming and voice-over scripts before they head off to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. As a parting shot we were encouraged, nay exhorted, to vote for the programme in order to attain the Peoples' Choice Award for the cast to take with them when they go!

For the record the cast was Helen Duncan, Quindell Orton & Joseph Simons.

Fresh Out The Fringe present
3's Company, 2's A Party

Venue: The Treasury Cabaret | Corner St Georges Tce & Barrack St Perth
Dates: 15 – 17 Feb, 2012
Tickets: www.fringeworld.com.au

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