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Fringe Review: The Amazing Cromoli Brothers

The Amazing And Impermeable Cromoli Brothers

Reviewed by Lorraine Ward

The Amazing and Impermeable Cromoli Brothers
No Frills Theatre Co (Canada)
23 - 25 February
8pm (60 minutes)
Blue Note Café (Bookings 048015007)
Full $12 Concession $10 Addict $8

It's 7.45pm and I wander into Blue Note on Cuba St. There's not a lot of people there, about 20, but they all seem relaxed and happy. They're mainly sitting around café style tables or getting drinks at the bar. I ask the man sitting on the couch to the right of me why he'd come to this show.

"My friend and I wanted somewhere to go," he says, "and we read about it in Capital Times."

To my left someone says, "Have you ever tried those party pills?"

"I did," someone replies, "and couldn't sleep for 40 hours."

I decide to stick to strong coffee.

There is an overhead fan whirring, and long red paper lampshades. There is a small stage with two bar stools on which are a suitcase and a ukulele. On the back curtain is pinned a list. A sound technician is playing with the equipment to the left of the stage. He comes forward to say that the show will start in three minutes. Would we please turn off anything that might bleep? He is sorry, but we are waiting for a latecomer.

The lights go down, and we are an audience, anticipating.

The sound technician comes back on, dressed now in a black suit and white shirt. He is St John Cromoli, on the phone to his brother Hasbro. Hasbro has to get here. To the Blue Note. In Wellington. New Zealand. Appalled, St John realises that he will have to do this double act alone until his brother turns up.

The list, it appears, is a list of fifteen scenes. St John will ask for an audience volunteer to choose a scene. He will perform it, and bow when the scene is ended. Who would like to see which scene first?

The scenes we were treated to (I could list the whole fifteen, but I won't) had titles such as The Rich, Nude Beach, Karaoke, Heaven's Gate Webcam, Cover Song, The Advertisement.

Classics, such as Nude Beach, involve full frontal sock puppets (and a toy dog). Cover Song, David Bowies "Ground Control to Major Tom", is sung accompanied by ukulele and melodica and has a toy astronaut floating in a (you guessed it) tin can.

Heaven's Gate Webcam is based on the premises that there is a webcam at the entrance to heaven and that to get into heaven you have to sing a song, tell a story, or recite a poem about yourself which must be true. These stories, poems, songs are judged by a host of angels (the audience) who shout "Hell, yeah!" if they deem the offering worthy.

We then heard the poignant song of John, a quiet, self-effacing chap with herpes, who died of a chill on the patio. We were so moved by his sad and sorry life that it took us a few seconds to remember to shout "Hell, yeah" and let him through the Pearly Gates.

A particular favorite - it was asked for twice - was "I - heart - Peter Jackson" (that's how it's pronounced) a ballad singing the praises of our local hero.

Maybe the audience was a little cowardly. We didn't sing the Karaoke. We didn't buy the "Cum Clothes" that were beguilingly advertised (only $2 each). But we did vote John into heaven, we did play the musical instruments that Hasbro wasn't there to play, we had our photos taken and we floated Major Tom in his tin can above our heads.

The Cromoli Brother(s) described themselves as impermeable, impractical, impressionable, inconceivable, immobile, inviolate and intractable. I'd like to add idiosyncratic and inspired.

They are the brainchildren of Lucas Myers, a graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada.

*********

Cromoli Brothers press release
Scoop Full Coverage: Festival 2006

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