JackRabbit Theatre Productions
142 Addison Road, Marrickville
Season: 28 June – 15 July
Before the show in the theatre foyer, you can hear a band jamming. The vibe is good and the atmosphere is buzzing. This is a winning element of Front – it exudes youthful energy and excitement from start to finish. It’s a simple story told well, pumping you up and holding your interest. With a fast pace and frequent doses of comedy it doesn’t matter that the play isn’t exactly profound, rather it takes you along for a ride, ups and downs all included. Rough Cut Punt is the name of the band, comprised of a lead singer, guitarist, bassist and drummer. They make good music, play average gigs, get a manager, have personality clashes and egos get in the way. They find success, screw it up, and keep going. It’s all about sex, fame and rock’n’roll baby.
Performances are good across the board, personality types are distinct and highly conducive to good humour. Charlie Falkner is hilarious as the quietly intelligent stoner on guitar. Jack Angwin is suitably irritating as the proud bassist who becomes too big for his boots, instigating conflict in the band. Mary Soudi is a boss ass babe in every role that she takes on - particularly as the interim bass player for the band and as the producer. The cast is apparently musically, as well as theatrically talented, playing live music at various points in the play and sounding mighty good.
Occasionally the stakes for the band and the music don't translate strongly to make the audience really care. Potentially this just goes to highlight the extravagance of the ego in male artistry that sometimes takes hold in its self-aggrandisation and absorption, which is so often hailed as 'genius' or dismissed as necessary characteristics of an artist. This is best illustrated by Lincoln Vickery’s character, that goes to show that sometimes 'dickheadery' makes a more appropriate label than 'artistry'. It’s worth considering the prevalence of all-male bands and the regular featuring of predominantly-male line ups at festivals and gigs. This is an issue that is being brought to consciousness and is improving, however it should be noted that Rough Cut Punt’s interim female bass player didn’t last too long in the band when sexual attraction got in the way and while a predominantly-female band is mentioned in terms of success, we don’t ever see or hear them. That’s a shame in terms of representation of women in the music industry. What is positive on this issue in the play is the representation of women in music production, which faces similar strife, with Mary Soudi as the music producer and Elle Harris as the band’s manager – both depicted as highly confident and competent, as they should be.
Front has the audience in good spirits throughout the show’s entirety, awash with laughter and big smiles on faces. Michael Abercromby has created a wonderful show, and his investment in virtually every aspect of the play and production is impressive. Sometimes it can be hard for joint writer-directors to have sufficient perspective on their work since it’s all a labour of love, leading to verbose dialogue and sentimentality. On the whole, the piece is tight, the comedy hits the sweet spot and the show tells a story people can really enjoy watching. Go see it, you’ll have a good time.