Paul O’Halloran writes …

What do you get when you cross Ivan Milat with Gilbert and Sullivan? Wolf Creek the Musical of course, the musical comedy running at The Melbourne Lithuanian Club during the 2013 Melbourne Fringe Festival. It’s a hysterically morbid, delightfully amateur and breath-taking spoof of the Greg McLean Australian horror film, Wolf Creek.

Political correctness and sensitivity are tossed aside like severed body parts, resulting in an outright marvel of a show. Co-written by James McCann, who also wrote the script and provides the live music, and Demi Lardner, who stars as male lead Ben, it’s sure to be a triumph at this year’s festival. It’s reminiscent of a show you might put on with your family at Easter or Christmas, with the props consisting of a cut-out cardboard car and two-dollar-shop blonde wigs and hats, all used to signify character changes.

Wolf Creek the Musical hits the nail on the head every step of the way. One of its most enchanting features is that it understands the type of show it is. It’s low budget, independent comedy and can’t help but make fun of itself, constantly endorsing the ‘sponsor’ of the show, a clams salesman who is under the impression he is financing a romantic comedy.

The cast bring to the stage such a charismatic innocence, allowing them to literally get away with murder. It’s not often that a production can so easily win an audience’s affection when singing about STDs and hand jobs, but the outstanding leading ‘man’ Demi Lardner does so effortlessly. Aficionados of the film might notice Lardner’s slight alterations to her character, portraying Ben as a hornier and less-Australian, more-Greek wrist model wannabe who’s not so much wet behind the ears as drenched behind them. In his portrayal as Mick, the all-Aussie backpacker killer, Kel Balnaves manages to reveal his character’s motives almost as unsubtly as John Jarratt, who played the same character in the film. His timing and facial expressions, in keeping with the conventions of musicals, are hilariously over the top and harrowing only to his fellow actors.

Funnily enough, Wolf Creek the Musical isn’t a completely accurate representation of the film. But as far as parodies go, it’s an absolute riot. Not enough praise can be sung about this original musical comedy, not even if the talented and charming cast helped sing a few bars. It’s a must-see this Fringe Festival. Two severed thumbs-up.

Wolf Creek the Musical is playing 20 September to 5 October at the Melbourne Fringe Festival.

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