Left – Michael Dalton. Cover – Michael Dalton, Susan-ann Walker and Sean Weatherly. Photos – Kate Arnott
Sometimes an invitation to the theatre comes with relatively short notice making finding a companion a little tricky. On this occasion, this was perhaps a good thing given satirist Tom Lehrer once said of his career, "If, after hearing my songs, just one human being is inspired to say something nasty to a friend, or perhaps to strike a loved one, it will all have been worth the while”
Best known for his humorous, satirical and topical songs recorded in the 1950’s and 60’s, Tom Lehrer (still alive) was also a mathematician who, along with performing his parodies lectured in universities on both Maths and Musical Theatre. In 1980, a young Cameron Mackintosh created a revue of Lehrer’s work and Tomfoolery has enjoyed more than 200 productions since.
Lehrer’s songs certainly don’t feel as offensive or as controversial as they undoubtedly once were but given the fluidity of his topics – love, friendship, culture, race, politics and religion, they’re certainly not without clout and indeed some alarming and very current relevance.
So, with no one beside me to abuse physically or verbally, my focus was therefore directed to those on stage, however, it’s absolutely not abuse I wish to aim at any of them because they were all exceptionally good.
Lehrer’s songs require skill and vocal dexterity and in this Melbourne Fringe Festival production, they are in abundantly capable hands. Susan-Ann Walker, Peter Hurley, Michael Dalton and Sean Weatherly bring to life twenty-one numbers with energetic irreverence.
The show is simply great fun both for an audience and very clearly for its cast who take full delight and advantage of fantastic collective and individual opportunities to shine. Susan-Ann Walker is as laugh out loud fabulous as she is musically and vocally versatile. Incredibly rich in delivery and chief accompanist for the evening is the perfectly dandy and classy Peter Hurley. Meanwhile, Sean Weatherley clearly put his hand up for the tough numbers and delivers ‘The Elements’ and ‘New Math’ with a knowing wink. While a huge fan of his alter ego, I was absolutely delighted to see the wonderfully talented Mr Michael Dalton as Mr Michael Dalton – this man works so so hard, is so so good and is so so funny.
With an enviable back catalogue of work, versatile performer writer and director Theresa Borg has pulled Tomfoolery together and created a really enjoyable evening that generates knowing smiles, belly laughs and some very current thinking about the state of everything. Go along, sing along and laugh along with this very talented foursome but do it quick because the season, like so many fringe shows and Tom Lehrer’s ‘Poisoned Pigeons', is not around for long.
2018 Melbourne Fringe Festival
TOMFOOLERY – The Words and Music of Tom Lehrer
adapted by Cameron Mackintosh & Robin Ray
Director Theresa Borg
Venue: Gasworks | 21 Graham Street, Albert Park VIC
Dates: 12 – 22 September 2018
Tickets: $40 – $35