Review: PO PO MO CO’s Second Birthday Show
It’s been two years since Post Post Modern Comedy sprung out of the back room of Hares and Hyenas at Midsumma. Since then their particular brand of comedy has gathered a strong following, seducing audiences and critics with a taste for absurdity and pastiche. Returning to their home venue yet again, PO PO MO CO present a Leigh Bowery inspired party, complete with cake.
PO PO MO CO’s Second Birthday Show is a no-holds-barred celebration of the troupe’s signature physicality and out-and-out oddities. Luckily, everyone in the audience seems to be utterly aware of what they’re in for, and what they’re in for is a homage to/satire of performance art collectives, fashion, and queerness. There are a few acts out there who can simultaneously parody and embody performance art, but PO PO MO CO don’t just manage it – they relish it. While there’s something of a through-line with Baba and Ganoush (pictured), the wife and husband duo behind the performing arts collective whose showcase the audience witness, the show is more like a structured series of sketches that jump from spectacular runway models to sperm races via the tragi-comedy of climate change.
The costumes are a strong centerpiece, often anchoring the comedy and the performers’ bodies, with limbs strapped tight by lycra, parts extended by foam, and heads obscured by headdresses, in line with the whole ‘Leigh Bowery’ vibe. Don’t worry too much if you don’t know who Bowery is, just trust that PO PO MO CO are doing justice to his legacy (though, for the record, he’s a queer Australian performance artist and fashion designer, all of which you can pick up from the context of the show). There’s not much point singling out specific performers for compliments; everyone on stage brings an intense focus and humour to each line and movement. Impressively, the show was entirely devised and directed by the cast, and while the seams definitely show, it seems utterly deliberate. The lighting and music cues supported every punchline, often turning giggles into out and out laughter with carefully plotted timing lining up movement, lyrics and colour into something spectacular.
PO PO MO CO’s Second Birthday Show reads as something as a manifesto for the troupe. This sense is helped by their guest performers, who have been asked to present their favourite manifestos. For Sel Jenkins, aka Beau Heartbreaker though she is performing as herself here, a manifesto is a song. Jenkins picks up one of the most powerful musical statements last year; Kesha’s ‘Bastards’. At first, Jenkins’ presence is somewhat incongruous (hard to believe anything could be that way in a PO PO MO CO show, but still), but her performance is so good that the audience are quickly swept up in how intimate and soulful it is. PO PO MO CO’s Second Birthday Show is a true celebration of and commitment to ‘art’, whatever that might mean.
PO PO MO CO’s Second Birthday Show was on at Hares and Hyenas until 3 February. If you missed it, don’t worry! The troupe will be back onstage for the 2018 Melbourne International Comedy Festival in March/April! For more information, and a series of video sketches produced with Princess Pictures, head to http://www.popomoco.com/.