Alice Tovey: Malice

Alice Tovey has the pipes, the wit and the cutting tone of the best of comedy cabaret, which she displays as she sings her way through issues from body-image and religion, to feminism and Karl Stefanovic. As the title suggests, there’s a lot of malice in the show, a particularly Gen-Y frustration at the stupidity and prejudice of the modern world. Tovey isn’t afraid to let us know just what she thinks, and armed with a wry smile, a diva ego, and her powerful voice, she’s sure to offend and delight in equal measure.

Tovey’s humour occasionally spills into the caustic. She has a whiplash tongue, and her criticisms of the Catholic Church and anti-vaxers in particular go right for the jugular. It is not a show for the easily offended.

While I certainly agree with her politics, sometimes the funnier jokes are those that subtly slide just under the surface; occasionally, the ends of songs err on the side of obvious moralising. But she tackles a wide range of issues and for the most part, and she handles them with sharp and easy wit. She’s not always full of spitfire venom: her song to a friend with a severe eating-disorder manages to be both heart-felt and humorous, and her commentary about body-image and female objectivity is powerful in its abrasive honesty. Her anecdotes and quips between songs carry the sardonic confidence of someone much older than she is, as she channels a persona somewhere between Tim Minchin and Judith Lucy.

Accompanying pianist Ned Dixon is totally accomplished, adding flair to the performance with his jazzy Broadway-esque compositions. He takes Tovey’s teasing with a grin and is an obvious match to her talent. All songs were co-written by the pair, and it’s clear that there’s spades of talent in their relationship. This is a duo to keep an eye on, perfect for anyone wanting to support the best of the Fringe’s up and coming talent.

★★★½