“The Court of Swing Caractacus”
Presented by Mad Ferret Productions
Tuggeranong Arts Centre until May 26.
Reviewed by Bill Stephens
MOVE over C.J.Dennis you have a rival. Andrew Hackwill has invented his own highly entertaining musical genre, the larrikin musical, notable for its catchy tunes and gloriously silly plots.
This is the fourth of Hackwill’s musicals to be premiered at the Tuggeranong Arts Centre in recent years, and certainly the most polished.
Not only is Hackwill the writer and composer of “The Court of Swing Caractacus”, he is also the director, designer, musical director, choreographer and set builder, and has gathered around him a talented cast who share his taste for silliness, a jaunty six-piece band in which he plays, and six energetic swing dancers to add additional colour and movement to complement Christine Pawlicki’s already riotous costumes.
In a cheeky homage to C.J.Dennis, the story is narrated in verse by a cheerful character called Hec (a delightful performance by Brian Kavanagh), who helpfully includes the stage directions and ends up with the winsome Mary (Alyce Nesbitt). It concerns three unlikely fortune tellers, Wong, Elle and Jack (gleefully portrayed by Mark Woods, Jane Kellett and Kevin Crowe), who are threatened with eviction from their Caractacus Court premises by a devious agent, Wilheim (Dim Ristveski) and his cohort Nora (Cerri Murphy).
Each gets a solo, of which “It’s Good to Be Wong” and “Me and My Mountain” are stand-outs, even if most of the lyrics are lost under the over-enthusiastic band.
Photo: “The Court of Swing Caractacus”… Brian Kavanagh, Alyce Nesbitt, Dim Ristevski, Mark Woods, Jane Kellett, Kevin Crowe and Cerri Murphy.