Monday, 13 April 2015

Point and Shoot: Farewell Show - Holland St Productions (11 April 2015)

I first saw Point and Shoot at Fringe World 2014 where it won two major awards including $10,000 to assist touring the production interstate and overseas. It was subsequently performed in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney towards the end of that year garnering more awards and praise with an encore season at Perth’s Fringe this year. As the team prepare to take the show to the Brighton Fringe Festival in the UK they announced 4 final shows in WA – two in Perth and another two in Busselton to raise money to assist with costs or, as one declared at the end of Saturday’s performance, so they can afford to eat while on tour!

It would be fair to say that after witnessing the show for a second time that it is my favourite piece of original content generated out of Perth (in all formats) for quite some time. I revisited the brief review I wrote back in February 2014 and this still holds true:

“This is a hilarious and pointed satire of Hollywood and the filmmaking business with a clever plot ("twist") and biting lyrics. The four actors play multiple roles and instruments and all are in fine voice. The transitions are seamless and this rockets along at a frenetic pace.”

What struck me on Saturday night though is that after touring the show and making tweaks here and there it is such a tightly constructed and slickly performed production. The writing (Book and Lyrics by Tyler Jacob Jones) is clever and witty which has fast become the Jones trademark as witnessed by his subsequent play F**k Decaf and work on Skin Deep which debuted at Fringe this year. It is also a wonderful synthesis of a love and understanding of both movies and musical theatre. A passion shared by Robert Woods who wrote the music and crafted the filmed excerpts for the fictional 1961 sitcom Selma Saves The Day and its bombastic, over-the-top 2042 feature incarnation.

This is the mischievous conceit of the whole undertaking – inverting the current Hollywood paradigm to posit a world in 2042 where the Independents rule the roost in the name of ART and the blockbuster of yesteryear is in disgrace after every single property was plundered for entertainment. All except the obscure, one season show where Selma, her meatloaf, and trusty pet canine literally save the day. In steps the granddaughter of its original creator who comes to Hollywood with dreams of bringing Selma to the big screen. What follows is so furiously entertaining and funny with twists galore that you are swept up in the sheer audacity and inventiveness of it all. The script none-too-subtly lampoons the state of cliché ridden filmmaking but also betrays an intimate understanding of genre and how to subvert it.

This in itself is impressive but the kicker is in the execution. Four actors playing over fifty characters with rapid fire character transitions AND playing multiple instruments during the course of the story with musical motifs cleverly used throughout. It’s a dizzying display of talent, chemistry between the performers, and tight direction and choreography. All four – Jones, Woods, Tamara Woolrych and Erin Hutchinson inhabit different personas so distinctly with such diversity across their multiple roles that it truly showcases triple threat ability – singing, acting, and musicianship. This isn’t used as a gimmick but rather as a meticulously crafted and wildly inventive presentation of the story.

Jones is ever the showman as the screenwriter who dreams of bringing the movies of his childhood back to the big screen. Woods has a manic intensity as the hobo who portends cinematic doom. Woolrych is both ditzy newcomer and knowing femme fatale while Hutchinson is the desperately lovelorn secretary who will sacrifice everything for her unrequited love. But they are so many more iterations including their parts in the filmed footage. It’s simply a dazzling fusion of writing, performance, direction and music.

An added bonus was that as part of their fundraising drive an original cast recording was available for sale on CD. The standout song for me – Absolute Perfection – so beautifully sung by Woolrych will no doubt be stuck in my head for days to come. It was also no surprise to see so many local filmmakers in the audience with even a brief discussion afterwards about how you would go about adapting Point and Shoot for the screen. For art, of course!

All that’s left to say is that I wish the four performers and their support team all the best for their UK performances. I have no doubt the show will be a hit and deservedly so.  

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