Christopher Green performs as Tina C. Photo – Lachlan Woods
How dare she? That, in part, was the reaction towards country and western diva Tina C tackling the subject of the stolen generation, especially from some members of the aboriginal community. Fair enough: what would this ditzy blonde upbeat gal know about the most painful legacy of Australia's recent history? More than you'd think. Described by Stephen Fry as 'one of the great comic creations of the age', Tina C, one of the alter egos of Englishman Chris Green, says things others cannot. The healing power of country music is the perfect vehicle for Green's provocative peace activist to explore aspects of Australian history that are well-nigh inexpressively tragic. Because Tina is a self-educated gal, Chris Green uses her naiveté and curiosity and undaunted American sexy self-confidence to ask the tough questions and say it like it is.
Tina opens the show by warming the audience into sharing hugs; by sheer force of her intent you will feel the love. Sounds dreadful, but it works. The goodwill created at the show's start means the audience gives themselves over to Tina's charisma and is prepared to go along with whatever may come next. Green's clever, clever characterisation means you never doubt Tina's sincerity yet you can laugh at her ignorance. What Tina C does is both daggy and acutely, hilariously satirical. Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word is a hard hitting show which lets no-one off the hook but makes you laugh and laugh, yet think again about the dreadful, difficult stuff of the past and its impact on today. Tina has done a lot of research (by sending books to India to be paraphrased) and found the few unsung colonial voices of dissent from 200 years ago which she includes as part of her lecture, 'Tina Talks' (a la the TED Talks).
Compassionate and humane are amongst the best adjectives to use in describing this show but don't be fooled, it ain't warm and fuzzy. Tina is accompanied on stage by C&W legend Auriel Andrew OAM, bringing the immediate voice of indigenous experience with her classic Truck Drivin' Woman and Brown Skin Baby. The second song moved the audience to a still, sad place – I won't give away what Tina C does next to manage the emotional tenor of the moment and move the show along but the effectiveness of her timing and response is just amazing. Also on stage is singer/songwriter James Henry, a gentle foil to Tina's giitz, who gets to be both audience and performer; the poignancy of his being the grandson of country music legend Jimmy Little, whose story is sung in Brown Skin Baby, is not lost on the audience.
Tina C is a brilliant comedienne; a gobsmackingly bright and shiny, truly funny creation who viciously critiques her own culture with subtlety and skill along the way. Comedy platinum. Can't imagine yourself ever singing along to a C&W version of Waltzing Matilda? Take the Tina C challenge and you'll be surprised!
Malthouse Theatre, Christopher Green, Julia Holt and Melbourne International Comedy Festival present
SORRY SEEMS TO BE THE HARDEST WORD
Created by Christopher Green
Venue: Beckett Theatre | The malthouse, 113 Sturt St Southbank Vic 3006
Dates: 21 March - 14 April, 2012
Tickets: $23 - $40 (including booking fee)
Bookings: www.malthousetheatre.com.au / 03 9685 5111