Review by Emma Whitelaw
AUSTRALIANS simply love to 'take the piss' – this is especially
so when they are satirising themselves!
Melanie Tait’s The Vegemite Tales, now
showing at Riverside Studios, is a prime example
of the uniquely dry wit of the average antipodean.
The characters sharing the small flat in Acton seem to believe
that the further you are from home, the more at liberty you are
to misbehave. Blokes and shelias alike get up to all sorts of
shenanigans at their home from home.
Andrew Robb is delightful as Sam, the father figure of the house.
The show begins with a hilarious home video of his mum, brother
and their pet dog.
Having spent the past seven years in London, Sam is an authority
on how to make the most of the London experience. Boozing away
any threat of homesickness, Sam believes he has found the answer
to escaping a failing relationship – simply get on a plane
and don’t look back!
He warmly welcomes the audience into their humble abode. Designed
with authentic precision by Tamasin Rhymes, the set is covered
in houseshare filth.
Walls covered in posters and postcards,
VB cans strewn across the floor, surfboard in the corner and,
of course, all the aussie CDs you could ever wish for.
Home and Away star Ben Steel is excellent as Dan, who has trouble
thinking outside of his underwear. Having pulled over 30 chicks
in his time, Dan sees himself as a bit of a stud but when it comes
to scoring with Maddie (Sarah McGlade), the one girl he really
cares for, he just can’t seem to rise to the challenge.
Prime bitch and snooty Melbournite, Jane, annoys the entire house
with her incessant nagging about the state of the toilet bowl.
The talented Sarah Hadland is an absolute delight as the irritating
housemate that everyone loves to hate, but it is her second role
of the night, posh fox fur loving Portia that brought the house
Tom Sangster, too, had the audience in stitches with his preparing
for a hot date sequence complete with y-fronts stuffed with socks;
his characterisation of the luckless Eddie is superb.
Though obviously written with the Australian population of London
in mind, the tale is as entertaining as any. With accessible characters
and complex subplots the script is full of slapstick humour and
witty one liners and billed as Australia’s answer to Friends.
It is arguably one of the funniest plays staged this summer!
The Vegemite Tales by Melanie Tait. Directed by Bill
Buckhurst. Starring Andrew Robb, Ben Steel, Andy Leonard, Sarah
Hadland, Tom Sangster, Sarah McGlade and Jessica Gerger. June
2 to August 27, 2005 at Riverside Studios, Hammersmith London
W6. Box office 020 8237 1111.