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Review: Roulston & Young: Songs for Lovers (And Other Idiots)

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London comedy duo Roulston & Young come straight from the Adelaide Cabaret Festival to Melbourne’s Butterfly Club, to deliver an hour of upbeat laughs and jabs at relationships on a frosty Melbourne night.

The first song lets you know what you’re in for, an upbeat formula with plenty of witty banter between hosts and invitations to the audience to join in the wink-winking and nudge-nudging. The audience that this reviewer was a part of were only too happy to oblige, a lively one indeed.

From there, Roulston and Young travel through lovers past and present, dancing between awkwardness and laughter, stopping for breath only to invite the audience to chat and join in on the stories. While interactive is probably the wrong word to exercise here, it certainly felt involved and it ushers everything in with a warm solidarity.

Songs explored everything from one-night stands with people half their age, vegging out in front of Deal or No Deal re-runs with a box of tim-tams, and crowd favourite ‘Please don’t hand me your Baby’, which brought on plenty of hearty laughter from the audience. The group was also adept at throwing in plenty of Australian references, something I thought was quite self-aware and clever.

And while it is a mixture of upbeat tempo and sultry comedy, there’s a certain tenderness that underlies it all. Particularly relevant in the song ‘The Letter’, where Young explores the crucible of adultery and divorce.

Of course, the core of it is a collection of songs on love, and the absurdity of all: the silly things it makes us do, the things it makes us put up with, and the infinite happiness and regrets it’s capable of inducing in us.

In this strange way it feels rather intimate, and human. The way the Butterfly club is set up only enhances this quality, giving the sensation that the show was written with the venue in mind, which is down a laneway off Little Collins Street and winds up staircases through to a bar, a back room littered with what seems like 50’s memorabilia, and then to a stage in the attic.

Seats are up front and centre the walls not wide apart. The only focus is on stage. People in the front row are almost at arm’s lengths from the stage. The nakedness of it gave it the sensation of being at a dinner party, face-to-face with friends.

 

Written by Matthew Toohey

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