The team of Nick MacLaine, Andrew Williams and Izaak Lim has become something of a local hit factory. Their pastiche revues consistently draw more than decent crowds to the cabaret in the basement of His Majesty's Theatre, while their recent Perth International Comedy Festival show Tropical Parodies walked away with the best (for which, read most popular) local act award.
Their production for last year's Cabaret Soiree series, the Cole Porter memoir You've Got That Thing, was a rung or two above most of the entertainments staged during these seasons. Its script had substance, the music was elegantly performed and they wisely brought in the experienced and perceptive Michael Loney to direct.
Loney is not back this time, and the script has been reduced to occasional patter between songs. Guy/Doll suffers badly for both absences.
The premise is good enough - versions of songs normally associated with one gender are sung by the other. But, by and large, the choice of material results in neither the frisson nor friction that was intended. A song like the opener, Guns 'n' Roses' Sweet Child of Mine, or Adele's Rolling in the Deep, may be associated with a male or female performer, but there's nothing gender-specific in them, so the swap adds nothing to their impact.
There were exceptions, and when they came along the show lifted immediately and markedly. Corrine Cowling's take on Working Class Man gave Barnesy's big, boofy, bloke ballad a sweet, adoring twist, while David Bowyer's hilarious versions of I Kissed a Girl and I Enjoy Being a Girl were exactly what the whole show should have been about.
Bowyer, a performer I haven't previously come across, was entertaining throughout, and he and Will O'Mahony, who sometimes pops up in shows that aren't half as good as he is, provided pretty much all of the evening's highlights. Neither Cowling nor the other "doll", Julia Jenkins, were able to rise above material that, in their defence, generally gave them and musical director Jangoo Chapkhana little to work with.
I wanted to like Guy/Doll much more than I did, and I believe its creators are capable of much better things.
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