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Son of a Bitch - Melbourne Fringe Review

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by Aridhi Anderson (subscribe)
Aridhi Anderson is a theatre director, writer and performer based in Melbourne. She writes about live shows, arts, culture and more at www.arichecksthingsout.com.
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An endearing sketch comedy show about sons and their mothers
Felix Castaner wants to be a comedian. So he writes a show. He even begins to perform it, and it's going all right. But his mum finds out and has ideas about how to improve it. Plus, she's always wanted to be on stage herself. She wants in. He says no. But everybody knows that's not how it works with mums.

Helen Breier and Felix Castaner. Photo credit: Sean Smith.
Helen Breier and Felix Castaner. Photo credit: Sean Smith.


Son of a Bitch is a hilarious sketch comedy show about a 20-something year old who can't seem to escape his very enthusiastic and involved mum. Through a series of sketches in the style of flashbacks, narrations, anecdotes, impressions, musical theatre (parody), and physical enactments, Felix and his real-life mum Helen Breier bring the house down in this very personal, yet universally relatable, depiction of their mother-son relationship.

The show is delightfully nonsensical while still being clever and substantial, and has a fresh, original quality to it. It feels appropriate for the venue, the intimate downstairs theatre at The Butterfly Club, and perfectly suits its short run time of 50 minutes. The performers Felix and Helen are the quintessential mother-son duo who embody the ideas in this show to perfection: Felix is a charming performer, a natural storyteller, skilled in doing character voices/impressions. He displays solid comedic instincts and delivers a nuanced performance. His mother Helen, by contrast, is all excitement and flamboyance and enthusiasm, and sometimes has trouble holding back her own laughter. Yet she is equally delightful and entertaining, and often (to Felix's dismay) steals the show.

Felix Castaner and Helen Breier. Photo credit: Sean Smith.
Felix Castaner and Helen Breier. Photo credit: Sean Smith.


Among the multitude of enjoyable moments throughout the show, three, in particular, stand out. First, the Wuthering Heights bit: Helen's peak in the show. It is a crazy story (sorry, no spoilers), but it's far more than just that. It is the first time in the show that Helen really comes to the fore as Helen, a real person with her own life and story, and not just Felix's mum. That (somewhat insane) pre-Felix angle lends depth to the show without compromising its delightful flippancy. The second moment that stands out is the Arthur Miller/Death of a Salesman bit: another hilarious section (again, no spoilers) that brings out Felix's knowledge and skill in his craft, while simultaneously being satirical, poking fun at the pretense that is all too common in theatre and the arts. The third thing stood out purely for its frivolity and comedic brilliance - Felix's impressions of his sister, Lola. Wild, caricatured, badass, and completely over the top, this "sibling bonus" was easily the lightest, silliest, and for me, also the funniest part of the show.

Helen Breier and Felix Castaner. Photo credit: Sean Smith.
Helen Breier and Felix Castaner. Photo credit: Sean Smith.


While it would be a stretch to imply that there are any significant takeaways in this show, Son of a Bitch is also far from being absurd or meaningless. It is heartwarming to watch a mother and son enjoy themselves as much as this duo apparently did, playing out their natural relationship (albeit in an extremely caricatured way, with a plethora of artistic embellishments). The sketches and anecdotes have a definite universal quality about them that will make a lot of people think (fondly) about their own mums (or children). Above all, it's great entertainment - there are some very big laughs to be had.
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Why? Clever and endearing sketch comedy show
When: 10-16 September 2018
Phone: (03) 9660 9666
Where: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Pl, Melbourne
Cost: $27-$34
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