Media Release review (Melbourne Fringe Festival)

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Devised and featuring a lead performance by Isabella Valette (pictured), Media Release is the story of an aspiring actress who forsakes the path of artistic credibility for the cheap thrills of reality TV stardom.

The cast does a great job of extracting some very funny lines from a solid, if imperfect script, and build up some hilarious exchanges between its well- devised characters.

Valette in the lead role is effervescent, impressing most when she is able to express her physical comedic attributes, such as a very funny pop song sequence.

Oliver Waters, Maddie Chaplain and Luke Chaplain offer strong support in their straighter roles, while their industry caricatures tread the line between sincerity and absurdity. The best moments are when some of these characters slip their leashes and surrender to a manic comedic energy.

The songs are well constructed, yet come in a rush that disrupts the established flow and energy.

What holds Media Release back from jumping from good to great is its slight lack of clarity. Is the show commenting on society’s obsession with celebrity, parodying the excess of the entertainment industry, or detailing the costs of selling out on a dream for 15 seconds of fame?

In the end it wavers back and forth between them, without really nailing any to a completely satisfactory conclusion.

The show works best when it’s commentating on the regurgitation of fame and celebrity and uses pop cultural references to show how everyday lives are infected by the obsession with celebrity. It also points to the overwhelming popularity of reality TV in Australia and some of the very tangible benefits it can bring.

Media Release is little rough around the edges and certainly drops off in both tone and intensity in the second half, yet remains an enjoyable effort with some fine comedic performances.

[box] Media Release is at the Court House Hotel, North Melbourne until September 26.[/box]

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