Fringe Bar, Cnr Cuba & Vivian, Wellington
01/03/2011 - 05/03/2011
12 months ago Jennifer O’Sullivan bagged herself the prize that every self-help-book-respecting woman craves – a husband. But no one clarified what she was supposed to do with him after the honeymoon…
One year on from the happiest day in her life, Jennifer O’Sullivan has worked hard to crack the wifery code and is ready to spill the beans on the secrets (and perils!) of earning your MRS.
From exploring history’s most underloved ladyfolk to appreciating and learning from the wives in our modern lives, this hour long variety show will feature comedy, improv and a little touch of theatre, all in the name of having a laugh.
The Fringe Bar
Cnr Vivian and Cuba Streets
Tue 01 Mar – Sat 05 Mar 6:30pm
Fringe Addict Card Holder $10.00
From: Door Sales
Ph: 04 801 5007
Review by James McKinnon 01st Mar 2011
Jennifer O’Sullivan is a charming, funny performer, and for these reasons among others one suspects that she “will make a great wife” – if she doesn’t already; she’s been working at it for a year now. Her husband is clearly taking his role seriously as well, and I mean that on a number of levels, because he was in the audience being a very good sport.
How’s Wife is a show that defies easy description, partly because it represents a marriage of genres (if you will), which is good, and partly because it seems to have been planned and rehearsed with the diligence and attention to detail of a 3am wedding in Las Vegas presided over by an Elvis impersonator. This is a shoddy, under-rehearsed (if that) production: O’Sullivan paused several times to check her script, struggled to stay synchronized with her Powerpoint slides, and often looked as though she was going through the show for the first time.
To be fair, she was: it was the first public performance, and some elements of this show are improvised and somewhat unrehearsable. But to be fair to her spectators, it is not unreasonable to expect a show to look a little more polished than this one. Some of the bits relying on audience participation were slow and awkward because the spectators were taken by surprise after settling into what feels like a stand-up comedy act. Hauling people up on stage very rarely pays off, and cajoling them into playing improv games they have never seen before doesn’t help them relax.
A faux game show involving three spectator contestants looked half-baked and sloppy, as O’Sullivan was overwhelmed by the combination of doing too many things for the first time – managing people, keeping the slides moving, exchanging witty banter. She apologized for being nervous, but didn’t look nervous; she was just seriously under-prepared.
I’ve been there myself more than once, and it sucks, but there’s a really simple way to avoid it: practice. Rehearse. Get a director, someone you can trust to let you know when a transition isn’t working, and to help you structure a mishmash of semi-connected funny ideas so it builds to a big payoff instead of just trailing off (it’s not a good sign when both the performer and the audience seem surprised to discover that the show is over).
Some of these issues will sort themselves out as O’Sullivan gets more confident and comfortable with the material and the timing. There is some very funny material here, and one thing O’Sullivan has thought out is how to entertain people who aren’t necessarily wives or married.
Her stage persona is authentic and highly likeable, and you’ll want her to succeed. She’s also quick on her feet; some of the best moments in the performance were witty responses to banter from the audience (apparently she has been prepared for this by a lifetime of being heckled by her father). So it might be worth catching later in the week once the performer is in synch with her material, her tech, her audience, and her very funny surprise co-star.
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