/ comedy

The Shuffle Show

A Steve Jobs portrait and an impending product launch provide the frame and device, an Apple store the setting, and a playlist shuffle-function tutorial the ultimately inadequate excuse to launch into a series of ‘themed’ musical medleys. Remember those Jive Bunny mega-mixes from the early 90s? Which culminated in the Essential Christmas album? Yeah.

So the conceit works something like this: think of a concept like, say, I don’t know, ‘launch’. Select some existing songs with lyrics that vaguely pertain to said concept (the title ‘aeroplane’ alone would yield Bjork, the Beach Boys, Indigo Girls, Chili Peppers and so on). And mash the lot into a loose lyrical storyline for a hyper-live performance with accompanying guitar that can never manage to get off the ground.

While well-enough executed, it’s a quasi-clever concept with an end destination about as ‘plain’ and uninspiring as an in-flight focaccia. But there are only so many miles a convenient metaphor can take you, and so musical theatre duo Elena Gabrielle and Grant Buse kick over just about every other hard-milked comedy rock in their hunt for hoots, crowding the Shuffle Show with ham-acting, parody, slapstick, sight-gags, and of course some silly costumes amid the pebbles of political satire.

Indeed, it was genuinely surprising they didn’t take a walk on the wild side at any given stage with some cross-dressing de rigueur. The show was capped off however with a pre-recorded backing supported extended dance extravaganza incorporating every conceivable novelty track n’ trademarked dance-floor fad that has ever blighted a human mass gathering hosted by some two-bit mobile DJ with a moniker like ‘Slam-master’ Steve. Strangely though, if they’d kept this up for the entire hour I might have been reasonably impressed.

At times the scripted comedy is sharp, especially the pretentious Apple vs. Android asides, but the grand mash-up of ideas itself curbs any hope of witnessing something unique or impressive here which might harness the performers’ evident energy and talents. Buse has the pleasant voice and affable demeanor of a versatile busker, and Gabrielle a set of seriously well-oiled pipes that can be as every bit as irritatingly shrill as the pop-divas she parodies. But the Shuffle Show is never more than a rusty nugget of lightly bawdy cabaret polished smooth of any edge through long-time erosion.

The terms ‘variety concert’ and ‘local sports-club’ kept invading my headspace, in a pejorative sense in case you had to ask – and if you did, then you’d probably enjoy the show. But this is certainly not one for the cool kids, not even in an ironic fashion. Q: What’s the difference between a hipster and a homeless person? A: "The hipster has an iPhone," the pair joke. Oh, and the opportunity to stay at home. Two and a half stars.

★★½

Ryan Quinlan

Ryan Quinlan

Ryan Quinlan is a nomadic freelance writer and satirical columnist who seriously struggles to write about himself in third person.

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