Chances are you need a feminist hootenanny in your life, or at least as part of your 2019 Melbourne International Comedy Festival. You might not think you do, but trust me – you do. Every 40something mum and her first year-arts-student daughter. Every grumpy aunty and her teenaged nephew. Every grandparent, every first date, every sweet non-binary soul and fierce transwoman. So put on your best boots and head down to the Malthouse to see Fringe Wives Club.
Yes, the Fringe Wives Club is back, and, like the successful club it is, its membership has grown. Original trio Tessa Waters, Rowena Hutson and Victoria Falconer are joined by two additions – Sharnema Nougar (of Two Little Dickheads) and Laura Frew (of Double Denim). Now a verified quintet, Fringe Wives Club is punching harder than ever. Their new show, Glittergrass, is an old-fashioned* country** music singalong***. Sorry, I mean *very progressive, fiercely-feminist **pop-disco-country music ***singalong (that one is real, at least for one song). This is cabaret at its best, blending slapstick, stories, music and comedy into a meaningful, hilarious performance.
The music of the show remains high-quality, deftly written and expertly performed. Every melody is catchy, clever and emotional, and that’s before you add the lyrics. The comedy is woven tightly into each song, each line telling a story and building into the punchline of the chorus. It helps that each member of Fringe Wives Club is a phenomenal singer. Each of the performers seems utterly at home on stage, flicking between seemingly improvised banter and impeccable, rapid-fire choreography. The costume design is perfect, as each wife struts and shimmies in tight, white sequined outfits fringed in white and pink – all with matching cowboy boots, of course.
It’s really easy to describe Glittergrass and the Fringe Wives Club as ‘sassy’. It’s accurate – the show and the performers are bold, lively and cheeky. But two equally fitting words are angry and joyful. It seems like an odd combination, but underneath every joke and every twirl is a dedication to joyfulness, a sense of play that won’t be shut out. And, next to that is an anger that cannot be ignored, a pent-up feminist fury that puts the punch in the punchlines. There’s a reason this is an award-winning ensemble.
Glittergrass is on at 9:45pm at the Malthouse until 21 April as part of the 2019 Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Tickets are available from the MICF website or the venue box office.