Annie Lee, Christine Johnston and Carolyn Jones
Subiaco Arts Centre
Many of our most memorable comic characters, like Edna Everage and Kath and Kim, come from forgettable suburbs. Aunty Jack, Norman Gunston, Roy and HG hail from unremarkable regional cities and towns. Places, you’d imagine, from which no one would, or could, emerge to make us laugh, let alone think.
No one at all seems to have emerged from Esk, an anonymous little dairy town of seventeen hundred souls 100km north-west of Brisbane. The Wikipedia entry for notable persons from Esk lists a butcher, a WWI pilot and a colonial bishop—and the Kransky Sisters.
Mourne (Annie Lee) and Eve Kransky (Christine Johnston), and their much-put-upon half-sister Dawn (Carolyn Jones) ply pop songs they’ve learned from the wireless as they tour the country in their old Morris Major.
Their rag-tag instruments—a tuba, an old, tinny keyboard, guitar, a saw, pots pans and other domestic paraphernalia, don’t exactly belt out the tunes, and neither do the girls. It’s all repression, shame and stifled sexuality—maybe it’s a bit like Esk. The songs, Single Ladies, Highway to Hell, Can’t Touch This, are a million miles from these gals, temperamentally and musically.
And that, of course, is the joke.
It’s not a bad one, either, and it certainly went down well with a crowd old enough to remember songs like Born to be Wild, Computer Games and Careless Whispers their first time around.
The songs wrap around the sisters’ stories of dysfunctional family life and unrequited love (all told with ghoulish intensity by Mourne and Eve—Dawn maintains an enforced silence, who look and sound like extras in the Rocky Horror Show). A couple of likely lads from the audience joined in, much to the sisters’ salacious delight, and a good time was had by all.
In the end, though, the show is a one-trick pony, a terrific twenty minutes stretched to ninety. It doesn’t break, so much as subside; the surprise becomes what song they will do next, rather than how. You pretty much know the answer to that already.
This review appeared in The West Australian 8.9.14