A Very Kransky Christmas

A Very Kransky Christmas
The Kransky Sisters. Alex Theatre, St Kilda. November 20 – 26, 2017  

The joy and the genius of the Kransky Sisters is that they worked out their shtick a long time ago: three other-wordly innocents locked in a genteel, impoverished, somewhat faded (probably by daylight savings) faux-gothic world in Esk, rural Queensland.   

Having mostly brought themselves up, the gentle Kranskys are stuck somewhere in late girlhood, managing their barely-articulated frustrations with endless rules and rituals, and by playing the music they hear on “the wireless” and in “young persons’clubs” or at the supermarket on a bizarre little orchestra of instruments made up of guitar, saw, tuba, “duelling” tambourines, keyboard, a kitchen pot and (natch) a toilet brush. 

Having firmly established their strange little world, and never deviating from character for a second, the po-faced Kranskys are then gloriously free to take the audience with them wherever they like on their most recent adventures at home and abroad (as far as Nimbin once).  The audience is heavily involved, and I found myself shaking my keyring (along with several hundred others) to accompany a tongue-twister version of “Deck the Halls”.   A Kransky Christmas also involves the hanging of the festive parsnips, and the placing of the hand-knitted egg-warmers on the Christmas tree.

It doesn’t hurt at all that the Kranskys are superb musicians, breaking down popular music, putting it through the oddity of the Kransky filter, and producing hilarious versions of such gems as “Poker Face”, “Hey Ya”, "Orinoco Flow", and the haunting “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” (it haunts them, it definitely haunted the audience once they were finished).  

“Ringleader” of her own little circus, Mourne Kransky (Annie Lee) is keeper of the Kransky way, snappish eldest sister and the storyteller who sets up the songs.  Her echolalia-inclined younger sister Eve (Christine Johnston) is virtuosic on the keyboard and the musical saw (and if ever there was an instrument for the Kransky sisters, the eerie saw is perfection, particularly during Eve's rendition of "Silent Night").  Carolyn Johns as the (mostly) silent tuba-playing Dawn was a tour de force, letting her tuba and fiercely expressive non-expression do most of the talking (she also brought the house down dancing to Fox’s “S-S-S-Single Bed” at the end of the show).  

The highlight of the show was the Contemplation of The Precious Objects, which saw the bones of pets propped against purloined pictures of the young Queen Elizabeth with great solemnity and care.  This is the genius of these performers, that such little moments are human, weird, funny and oddly touching all at once.  The Kransky message is one of self-acceptance – which Mourn Kransky summed up with “We are all odd socks meeting in the great washing machine of life”.  (She also wished the audience "full-stuffed stockings" for Christmas).

A hilariously weird evening, and highly recommended as the next instalment in the (hopefully enduring) Kransky saga.

Alex Armstrong

To keep up with the latest news and reviews at Stage Whispers, click here to like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.