Aridhi Anderson is a theatremaker, performer and reviewer based in Melbourne. Check out her work at aridhianderson.com.
A punny musical about classic fairy tale heroes (and a tree)
Pining For Affection: A Tree Musical by Marshall and Marrows Productions is a feel-good show about classic fairy tale characters reinventing themselves and expressing their stories through very likeable original music.
Stephen Amos, Gina Dickson, Ursula Searle and Alfred Kouris in Pining For Affection: A Tree Musical. Photo credit: Jaimi Houston.
The show has you smiling before it even begins. The lone "tree" on the stage may be firmly rooted in place but that doesn't keep him from giving off a friendly, welcoming vibe, engaging expressively with the audience as they enter and take their seats. When I took my seat in the front row, I asked the tree if I could take a photograph, and he enthusiastically obliged, posing for several. Once the show began, the expressiveness and interactiveness of the cast only went up. The smile on my face stayed plastered on for the entire duration of the show and stayed on after I left.
Stephen Amos as the Tree. Photo credit: Aridhi Anderson.
Pining For Affection: A Tree Musical has four heroes: the tree, a possum, a princess and a prince. If it sounds like a Disney movie, it kind of is, except it isn't. All the characters talk and sing to each other and have hopes and dreams and it's very uplifting and wholesome, but that's where the similarities end. The tree is tired of being a backdrop, and yearns for a lead role, for the recognition that tree-kind have been denied throughout history. The possum doesn't know who she really is or what she really wants, but she knows she definitely doesn't want to end up as a sidekick. The princess is pretty... pretty badass, that is. She dreams of flipping off her present life and going off to become a famous rock star. The prince is a charming but basically self-obsessed f-ckboi who feels entitled to get the girl simply because he is a prince. Okay, so that part is like Disney too. But at least he admits he's flawed, even though he believes his penis makes up for it (and be warned, he talks about his penis a lot).
Stephen Amos and Gina Dickson. Photo credit: Jaimi Houston.
The script is pretty clever. For a relatively simple plot, it swims around an interesting range of references in science/physics, maths, history, sociology, literature, and more. The songs cover a wide range of genres: country, pop, EDM, rap, and rock, to name some. The vocals are delightful and appropriate for the songs. The artistic choice to have no set at all, relying on costumes, minimal props, music, and of course the actors' performances to pull off the show, is a choice that works beautifully. It lines up with the tree's dream to not just be a backdrop, and emphasizes that in this show, everyone is an equal hero. Audience interaction is full on but a ton of fun, with the Prince finding himself a girl in the front row to flirt with on the side (and you have to admit, f-ckbois aren't entirely annoying when they have a guitar and make up a song for you on the spot... Princess, I feel ya!).
If you like puns and general word play, if you like feel-good stories and characters you can empathise with, if you like clever scripts and bubbly, energetic performances, don't miss Pining For Affection: A Tree Musical at the Melbourne Fringe Festival 2018.