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Aussies acting up in Acton for the Vegemite Tales



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 down.

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.

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