OMG I could hug this woman for what she did tonight.
Not only does she capture the heart of her Aussie-Greek culture and present it via Effie for out delectation but, towards the end of her new show, Mary Coustas reaches out to the audience, sheds her wig and bares her soul to thank her loyal fans and supporters.
Other women – and men – who have travelled the painful path of IVF, miscarriage and stillbirth will know how hard it is to broach the subject, even with close friends. For Coustas to share her own personal Greek tragedy – which thankfully has a joyful ending – with a room full of (mostly) strangers helps make that conversation easier for everyone.
It is an extraordinary ending to an extraordinary show.
The show opens with a video of Effie farewelling her hymen in song. That pretty much sets the tone for the whole show. For tonight is the night when Effie will gain a husband and lose a cherry.
Launching the Melbourne show before Valentine’s Day could not have been better timed.
Effie the Virgin Bride offers a blow-by-blow account of the mad Greek megastar’s wedding day but, by blending pre-recorded video clips into the life show, Coustas has also crafted a fun piece of observation comedy that almost serves as a docu-drama on mixed marriages. The theme of the domineering Greek parents is echoed in some of the clips that include interviews with other Greek-Skip couples who share the pain and joy of their cross-cultural love. It’s an unusual format but it had the audience in stitches – so much so that I couldn’t hear all the comments. A working knowledge of Greek swearwords will improve your appreciation of this bit; a crash course is advised if you have time.
From her pre-wedding boudoir, Effie first recalls the many “douchebags” and “drongos” she’s had to date before meeting Mr Right – her former schoolyard flame called Shane.
“There are two rules to dating me,” the virgin bride tells him. “No sex before marriage and my daughter Aphrodite is part of the package.”
Born through immaculate conception, it would seem, “Affie” has her own shot on stage, highlighting Coustas’ talent as a physical actor as well as stand-up comic. The skipping, rolling, playful Affie is artfully performed – as is leery hand-in-pocket Uncle Vasili who appears in the wedding scene.
Along the way we are offered a peek into Effie’s private one-on-one session with God before the ceremony, and some superb sessions from the Greek-style wedding band, playing rock classics with bouzouki. By the end of it all, the audience is eating out of her hand and she only has to say “Hello Good thanks” to get another laugh.
For 25 years now Mary Coustas has captured all the extreme idiosyncrasies of Australia’s second-generation Greeks in Effie, “Australia’s favourite megastar” with the big hair, big mouth and big heart. The size 8 pocket rocket still has it in spades (she’s doing two shows a night over the weekends) and manages to slip in some hard-hitting social commentary within her seemingly innocent observations.
Delivering breathtaking insults – at everyone – with an eye-watering attitude and accent, Effie is political incorrectness personified. But she serves it up with so much fun and honesty that it’s quite delicious.
Interestingly, the show is open to all ages in Victoria, NSW and Queensland, but is 18+ in WA.
Take your partner, take your best mate, even take your mum, but maybe don’t take your priest.
Frontier Touring presents
Effie the Virgin Bride
Venue: Comedy Theatre, Melbourne
Dates: 4 – 14 February 2016
Tickets: $59 – $69
Bookings: ticketmaster.com.au | 136 100
Touring Perth, Brisbane and Sydney