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BWW REVIEW: Trevor Ashley's Outrageously Absurd Pantomime For Adults, THE LYIN' QUEEN Returns, Revamped for 2021.



BWW REVIEW: Trevor Ashley's Outrageously Absurd Pantomime For Adults, THE LYIN' QUEEN Returns, Revamped for 2021.

Wednesday 1st December 2021, 8pm, The Studio, Sydney Opera House


Trevor Ashley (Conceiver, Writer, Director, Performer) and Phil Scott's (Writer) THE LYIN' QUEEN returns for a booster shot of absolutely insane pantomime pitched for a grown-up audience. The work, which premiered in 2019 is updated for a world that now knows the meanings of lockdowns, home schooling, and social distancing along with the plethora of political and social scandals that have emerged in the intervening 2 years.

Quintessentially Australian cultural icons blend with more universal references in a completely insane evening of music, mayhem, spoof, satire, and hilariously absurd plot in a work that contains all the essential elements of a classic pantomime. Nothing is off limits when it comes to boundaries that Ashley and Scott will push, happily galloping well over the line for an astute observation and call out of modern society, leading to roars of laughter, gasps of shock and groans of horror as the audience realizes that yes, 'they did go there'. For this incarnation, the originating cast of Trevor Ashley as leading lady Fay Wray, Shannon Dooley as blonde botanist, and Brendan Irving the intrepid social media influencer are joined by Todd McKenney as insane Doctor Richard Rabbitborough, and Shauntelle Benjamin as Rabbitborough's offsider Doctor Ebony White and refugee gone wild Graffiti.

The cast artfully express the ineptness and amateurishness of the genre, drawing out the tradition that pantomimes be the result of fast rehearsal times with often lower list "celebrities" leading to a slap-dash improvised elements though all are highly skilled performers. While Ashley and Scott's script is finely tuned the skill of the cast enables impromptu moments that add to the charm of the work and special skills like Irving's aerial acrobatics and memorable roles like McKenney's role in THE BOY FROM OZ are exploited as per the genre, adding to the absurdity of plot.

Moving the work into the larger space of The Studio has allowed for more obvious separation of scenes, utilizing the balcony to show the evil Rabbitborough's scheming away from the unsuspecting 'guests' he has lured to his new theme park on a previously unknown island off the Sunshine Coast. Presenting the work on a thrust stage brings the audience closer to the action while the depth of the space also allows for a bigger jungle to 'grow'.

After the nearly 2 years of lockdowns, shutdowns, mask mandates and everything else the pandemic has bought, THE LYIN' QUEEN is a perfect opportunity to relax and be entertained by the utterly absurd antics of some of Australia's best performers.

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