MICF Review: Alice Fraser’s Empire is amusing, but dense (performances until April 23rd)

There’s potential for the material in Alice Fraser’s Empire tone the basis of many inspirational talking engagements (she’s actually done a TED talk, so maybe she’s already there), but a show that gives us depth and meaning weren’t so much funny but reflective.

Fraser doesn’t shy away from the tricky and the thoughtful. Starting on a base of quantum physics and then getting the audience to a place where we discuss suicide and the sicknesses that come with it. It feels that there are too many ideas splaying from all places, and while having so much material can be good in terms of writing – there was a haphazard direction which just seemed to not have any purpose.

The dense feeling of the material feels too much like a lecture in a university theatre, and while the laughs were there, it didn’t seem to make a huge punch or deliver a message to take away. But with much of Fraser’s material in her past shows, there are useful insights and considered points to be made. It’s great to be woken and inspired by such things as an audience member, but it all seems slightly awkward when it’s labelled as comedy.

This introspection and deep conversation comes wedged with some banjo strummin’ for a few minutes and a huge shoulder padded costume, which simply didn’t make any sense whatsoever. If a show about deep critical thinking that aims to change the world while getting some amusing quips along the way is your thing, then you can’t go wrong with Alice Fraser’s Empire.

Alice Fraser’s Empire on at Melbourne’s Chinese Museum until April 23rd as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. More info here.

The reviewer attended the show on April 2nd.


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