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Comedy Review: Marney McQueen
Comedy Review: Marney McQueen

Marney McQueen

Octagon Theatre

There is something in the theatre called a "triple threat" - performers who can sing, act and dance. If there is something beyond that, it's Marney McQueen. The National Institute of Dramatic Art graduate is the works: not just a triple threat, she also writes and performs her own comedy.

Her shows at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival have sold out for the past two years. Best known for her character Rosa the Russian Beautician - waxer to the stars - McQueen has created a delightful cast of characters who are lovable and objectionable in equal measure.

They are characters as solid in their creation as anything her hero, Barry Humphries, has given us. And with no disrespect to the Australian master of the craft, McQueen's creations are more exciting because they are contemporary critiques of the characters we meet every day.

For instance, Damo - the flag-draped, Southern Cross-adorned, Contiki-touring bogan who shows his respect to the Anzacs by getting drunk at Gallipoli - is a far more relevant critique of the worst of what it means to be a proud but blissfully ignorant Aussie than cultural attache Sir Les Patterson.

But what matters more than the cultural critique is whether she's funny. And she is. In spades.

McQueen opened the show as Karen Barnes, the officious but a-bit-too-touchy-

feely-with-the-ladies security officer and - changing on stage while the audience was distracted by hysterical audio-visual packages featuring celebrities from Bert Newton to Ian Healy - treated the audience to a cast of well-developed characters. The first act highlight was an objectionable well-heeled, gold-digging bride who proudly announces her wedding is carbon neutral, in part because she took public transport - taxis.

The Octagon show was plagued by technical glitches but, importantly, the performances were solid. Rosa's stage time was perhaps a little stretched as it didn't seem as tightly performed in the first half, but McQueen was visibly enjoying herself on stage and relishing the crowd's warmth.

McQueen's CV is impeccable; filled with television appearances, theatre and, most notably, an international cabaret career. Comedy seems like an odd path to take but clearly she loves to interact with the audience - almost spending more time in the crowd than on the stage - and she gets the chance to improvise and show off her quick wit.

Her research was impeccable. Throughout the show her material had been localised to suit a Perth audience. It was not tokenistic, it was incredibly well researched.

Even Perth comics would have been hard-pressed to come up with a joke about how the people of Mount Claremont must have felt horrified when they woke to find Graylands in their suburb. For an out-of-towner (even one with a swag of Perth relatives), that was impressive.

Adaptable and incisive, Marney McQueen is one of the freshest and most exciting comics of the recent crop.

Her training is obvious in the depth and quality of her performance.

Marney McQueen appears at the Walkington Theatre, Karratha, on Sunday.