Ethel Chop & Chums

Ethel Chop & Chums
The Dog Theatre / Melbourne Fringe Festival. Footscray Town Hall. 21 September – 8 October, 2011.

For ridiculously funny and superbly consistent character based comedy at this year’s ‘Fringe’ you would be hard pushed to beat Ethel Chop & Chums.

Temporarily the ‘stray’ Dog Theatre of Footscray is being fostered in a space generously and perspicaciously provided by the Maribyrnong City Council that has poignantly been named the Dori Dragon Theatre – in honour of the late Dori Dragon who designed it. This space, bumped in with significant muscular endorsement by a number of genuine and generous theatre makers, works beautifully to house four, as always, well chosen offerings.

Ethel Chop (Andrea Powell), clad from head to toe in synthetic fabric, looks a treat with bright lippy all over her mouth and milk bottle bottom glasses. She comes from the ‘dark ages’ when people drank sweet sherry from a bottle covered by a crochet dogs head. Her drug of choice is ether and she serves custard tarts. Somewhat reminiscent of Shirley Purvis of the 1980’s, Ethel is a complex well rounded character of our times. She is a sharp lustful Granny and lively talk show host with more than a tinge of the bitter self-interested bully.

Geraldine Hickey also shines Ethel’s bland and down-trodden embodiment of a granddaughter. 

Then there are the Chums, and if the first night is anything to go by they are well chosen guests from the audience. We were treated to a chat and song from the enigmatic Rebecca Barnard (once of Rebecca’s Empire) and a cheeky impertinent interview with the charismatic Mayor Sarah Carter.

Well done – to both presenting partners Dog Theatre and City of Maribyrnong.

Relentlessly entertaining – with lots of laughs.

Suzanne Sandow

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