By Laura Money
Have you ever been to a bar or restaurant where the staff and other punters provide the floor show? Me either, until Frankie’s. We’ve all been there – out and about and a couple starts arguing, or a political debate breaks out, or even a proposal – unfortunately these conversations are usually in hushed tones and are rather difficult to eavesdrop on. Frankie’s invites you to eavesdrop – it’s the perfect live show that follows the staff and regulars of this delightful dive bar.
As Director/Creator Libby Klysz says:
This show is an unscripted love letter to the places we wind up in at the end of the night, and the families we make there.
Klysz and many of the performers involved are well-trained in improvised comedy as participants in The Big Hoo Haa, a weekly show that features improv comedy games and quick-thinking. It’s one thing to improvise a scene that goes for 20 minutes at its maximum, but another entirely to create long form scenes that provide a three week story arc. Walking into Frankie’s is an improvver’s dream come true – a full bar set, tables for an audience that makes it feel like a real bar. (It’s also a fully functional bar which audience members can actually buy drinks from – the performers don’t improvise their RSA certificates!)
Over the three weeks we will meet the staff of the bar – all there for different reasons – from wanting to be a chef and stumbling in, to being the granddaughter of the eponymous Frankie, and witness their power-plays and attitudes towards each other and their place of employment. We meet the barflies who shuffle or swagger in depending on their outlandish characters – on the night I attended I saw St John Cowcher as the loveable resident drunk who was as much a part of the furniture as the barstool he barely moved from, Dan Buckle as the nerdy maker of swords and who turned out to be surprisingly handy when it came to structural engineering, and Chris Issaacs who played a washed up actor drowning his sorrows after a terrible audition experience.
I am loathe to comment on the individual plot lines of an evening as I only saw one part of the puzzle which will continue to be filled in over the next few nights, but my observations are that the strength lies in the characterisation. Each of the performers couched their performances in strong characters that were therefore able to dictate what they say. As each night is loosely based around a key phrase or piece of advice provided by the audience, the actors must stay true to their characters and ask – how would my character respond to that?
It’s not all comedy, these performers, Shane Adamczak and Klysz especially provide meaningful pathos to their characters and their interactions. The music provided is completely improvised, too. Each band member, including the singer bursts forth with the energy of jazz musicians jamming together for the first time, and it adds a charming element to the show. When you enter Frankie’s you’re in for a treat – good drinks, great music, and a floor show to end all floor shows. These are people’s lives, ambitions and inner thoughts. They will make you laugh, maybe even tear up a little, but the one thing Frankie’s will guarantee – you’ll want to go back again.
WHEN: 13 November – 1 December 2018 | 7pm
WHERE: The Blue Room Theatre | Northbridge
INFO: Tickets $20 – $30 | Duration 60 mins | Suitable 15+ | Cabaret seating | Bar available