by Megan Whitfield | @m_eganwhitfield
In a town of only 46 people, you’d think solving a murder would be easy. Throw in an incompetent cop and bunch of eccentric townspeople, and you’ve got yourself more of a challenge.
This is the situation enthusiastic-but-untrained Police Intern Benjamin finds himself in, in the comedic play Gravel, showing at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival – how fitting that I got to see it on Friday the 13th.
The show follows wannabe policeman Benjamin, as he tries to solve a 30-year cold case in the tiny north-eastern South Australian town of Gravel. He assumes it’ll be easy as pie (or, more fittingly, a pastie – as is the cause of death in this case), but the town’s untrustworthy citizens, an alarming amount of (literal) dead ends and a not-so-bright assistant mean that this is not the case.
It’s an hour of light-hearted, family-friendly entertainment. At times, it’s clear the cast are cutting their teeth in the professional comedy world, but it’s easy entertainment with plenty of quick-witted lines to keep you engaged. It’s a show that leaves you feeling good.
The cast do a great job of capturing the ecosystem of a rural Aussie town, with good-natured satire – down to the bakery delivering the best meat pie, the local pub being the key landmark of the town, and the thriving power of local footy.
It runs the risk of being a little clichéd in its character choices from the elderly assistant in the local council, to the ‘crazy old lady’, but they’re done with charm and personality that make them stand out in their own right.
Highlights stem from the ‘local’ ads and an A Current Affair news interview with the local mayor, shown up on screen during set changes. The attention to detail here is great – totally capturing the dag-factor of regional Aussie ads.
The star of the show was Ethan Katz, shining in his numerous roles – from sign fixer/football captain, to hairdresser/butcher/window fitter. The enthusiasm, talent and commitment of the entire cast made for a fun and entertaining night out. A solid first show in this festival for the cast.
Catch Gravel at the 2018 Melbourne International Comedy Festival! Tickets and more information available here.