The Unspeakable Itch

The Unspeakable Itch
By Kate Smith & Drew Fairley. Darlinghurst Theatre (NSW). June 8 – July 8, 2012.

Building on two earlier comic collaborations, Kate Smith and Drew Fairley are well-placed to now explore what happens when a (theatrical) marriage gets a little boring. As they say about The Unspeakable Itch, how do you keep happily ever after happy ever after?

For this hideous couple, the answer is to spend – a new deck, a turbo barbecue, shiny new accessories, anything to intimidate friends and keep their ranking as a Bondi real estate agent and a hot clothes designer.   With the sex dried up and credit crashing, this is high camp farce with terrible wigs.  Most of it is an overplayed wash of nonsense but studded with occasional gems of wit and insight into a marriage yawning into familiarity. 

As with their other shows, Smith and Fairley wrote the script but as performers, they semaphore their comedy instead of playing the truth from which it springs.  Funnily enough, there’s more truth and poignancy in their songs together, written by Phil Scott, who’s a regular joy every year in the Wharf Revue.

Only in the second half does engagement begin to bite, as financial ruin and a funny tabloid television exposure bring darker, almost Strindbergian elements to this rambling panto. The awfulness of two well-drawn subsidiary characters, also played by Fairley and Scott, begins to fully blossom. As for the taudry Matt and Bec Shakespeare, they learn a lesson in life, but who cares?

Martin Portus

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