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The Travelling Sisters - MICF 2017

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by Donna Sue Robson (subscribe)
Donna Sue Robson specialises in the communication- and healing-arts. Jamie Natural Health and Healing is her energy-healing consultancy. Her modalities, workshops and boutique natural products can be viewed and purchased from
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Buckle-up for a hilarious road trip
The Travelling Sisters The Melbourne International Comedy Festival The Butterfly Club The best of Sketch Comedy Australia's best comedians
The Travelling Sisters are absolutely hilarious, taking audiences on an intrepid and sometimes twisted road trip, as they extract absurdity from the ordinary, and the lovable from the obscured. This is a show that you could take anyone to see, as 'play' and 'silliness' have universal appeal. Pic by Holly Broomhall.

The Travelling Sisters is the surprise packet of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, taking enraptured audiences on a lively, absurdist and just plain silly adventure-tour of first-rate sketch comedy. The Sister's performance composition starts with character-based humour, in the tradition of old-school TV legends like 'The Comedy Company' or even the 'Paul Hogan show', which they continue to build, twist and revolve around the essential concept of 'play'. Their MICF debut is a clever and bold exploration of ridiculousness, pushing characterisation and mimicry as far as they can. They also use audience interactivity to create surreal endings that surprise and delight. What cannot be understated, is The Travelling Sister's outstanding talent and the breadth of their disciplined artistic skills. This show - and this internationally credentialed trio is a comedic theatrical experience that should not be missed.

Lovable and Unpredictable

Imagine an elderly couple celebrating their love under the crooning, animated moon. 'In love' for their entire lives, the couple engage with the audience to recreate their whimsical wedding games of yesteryear - 'pass the pancake' and 'roll the sausage'. It's anyone's guess where this is going to go

The hilarity of The Travelling Sister sketches lies in their ability to push all of 'the in-between moments'. They build rapport, adrenalin and tease audience expectation. The Travelling Sisters intuitively know what are 'the funny parts' and tap into those funny moments in life. Sometimes too, is about daring to do what other people have not thought about- so attuned to our expectations of premise and ending. The Travelling Sisters have managed to exploit all of the possibilities of 'silly', 'madcap' and 'unexpected'.

Their humour has broad appeal and could be staged anywhere. No doubt, their international experience, (in Europe alone they have performed in London, Berlin, Prague, Bedford, Glastonbury, Bath) has given them a formula to understand people - and what makes us laugh. Their quirky characters, even those who have come from an Australian context, have universal comedic appeal. Essentially, they have created lovable characters and then push them through physical and musical comedy timed to maximise audience empathy and reaction. The Travelling Sisters combine funny scripts, acting brilliance and great timing to achieve immediacy and audience joy. Every moment we are with them with no idea what will unfold.

Off-beat and Bizarre

Imagine a rapping goat, pigeon-holed for his ability to make cheese

A dancing goat may sound like a character to which it may be hard to relate, but he is endearing because he literally 'came from nowhere'. It is even more bizarre to consider, that 'because he is only loved for his cheese', we can actually relate to him, and his static dancing and monotone made an impact. After the show, a group of gleeful women talked about 'the rapping goat' just because it was such off-beat, ridiculous humour. Little Collins Street stopped to watch the audience's rendition.

Even though this is the first time The Travelling Sisters have performed in Melbourne, they are already an indie cult hit, having been regional finalists in 'The Funny Women Stage Awards' and performed in famed Edinburgh Fringe Festival for two years running. The Travelling Sisters are a well-trained and acclaimed trio of sassy comic actors from Queensland and have wowed Australian audiences at the Woodford Folk Festival, Perth and Adelaide Fringe Festivals and the Anywhere Theatre Festival.

Absurd and Ridiculous

It is 1982 . The Travelling Sisters take on their male alter-egos and try to team-tell bogan-bloke tales of grandeur to impress women and the 'good folk' in an outer suburban Brisbane pub

Yes, it is 1982 and the tales are larger than life- if, in fact, we can ever hear the end of blokes telling tall tales. The Travelling Sisters put the fun back into daily life and ordinary people even when the tales are not that tall. The Sisters also take on opposing gender roles with ease and non-judgement.

Lucy Fox, Laura Trenerry and Ell Sachs share a Brisbane background and have a passion for making ordinariness, funny. Their humour comes from a complete lack of inhibition. They met at the University of Southern Queensland, 'fell in love' and since then have travelled, studied and performed together. You can just imagine three best girlfriends observing life and creating stories and scenarios from real people, real experiences and real life, together building, building and building ridiculousness, just as children create play, fun and drama. Their infectious silliness takes you right back to childhood, a time when fun and invention were ripe.

The Travelling Sisters The Melbourne International Comedy Festival The Butterfly Club The best of Sketch Comedy Australia's best comedians
Three potato chips are totally at home at the equally off-beat Butterfly Club. It is an everyday life sketch in vegetable format. Pic by Barbara Lowing.

Mime and Mimicry

And hey, mid-show and the Sisters change costumes yet again, on-stage, in real time, and change our world-view. We are going to learn about 'art history and crime'.

The Scream is about to be upstaged as the painting's visual focus becomes all-black, minimalist lines that we know the art world is proud to uphold. Edvard Munch's million-dollar canvas is converted to 3D physical theatre, an animated masterpiece ridiculed in slow-motion and silence. The Travelling Sister's trademark is their cheeky, brash wit. All are impressive mimics, comics and mime artists, and nothing is off limits when there is fun to be had. It needs to be stated though, The Travelling Sisters' humour is always in good taste and is respectful. They genuinely seem to love the characters and material that they create.

Light and Lively

The Travelling Sisters dress up as 'spuds-in-love' which the upbeat Butterfly Club audience followed gleefully. For it may have bypassed you, but potatoes have their own spoken language. Don't worry though, the story is made clear through actor brilliance. We can all intimately relate to the last remaining, broken-hearted potato

The comic genius of this sketch comes from the fact that The Travelling Sisters are completely comfortable with being complete idiots. Every sketch leads into yet another surprise. It is no surprise, however, that The Travelling Sisters were named as one of the Guardian's 'Top Picks' of the Edinburgh Fringe 2016.

Unashamed and Bold

Meet Boedicea, a Marilyn Munro-styled Blues singer from Brisbane. 'Larger-than-life', Boedicea lets her left hand play the guitar, while her right gestures and performs as she headlines the musical program. But who is Bodedica's right-hand' and can her left-hand keep up?

Lucy, Laura and Ell are all accomplished comedians, singers, musicians, actors and performers - which, as a blanket statement, hardly gives justice to the commitment each have made to their own careers. They have all trained with Philippe Gaulier in Paris and have worked throughout the UK since 2015. However, what makes them extraordinary is that they have found each other, stuck it out, and through genuine friendship and hard work, have become a unique theatrical ensemble. The Travelling Sisters hold and have created comic harmony. The quality of their ensemble is a rarity: that is what you are experiencing with The Travelling Sisters - rare magic.

The Travelling Sisters The Melbourne International Comedy Festival The Butterfly Club The best of Sketch Comedy Australia's best comedians
A night out at The Butterfly Club is always entertaining. The Melbourne International Comedy Festival and The Butterfly Club have scheduled extra shows of The Travelling Sisters in recognition of their brilliance and popularity.

Outright Unmissable

The Travelling Sisters are always 'at play': the show is ridiculously absurd, refreshingly lively and layers 'off-beat' humour with the unexpected. They are a composite 'triple threat': combining bizarre comedic genius, formal actor-performance skills and compositional flair. This is a show not to be missed: in recognition of their appeal and popularity, extra shows have been scheduled at The Butterfly Club for Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

The Travelling Sisters are an international act, artists of whom we should be most proud. Please get behind them this MICF season so that they become regular Melbourne festival performers.
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*Donna Sue Robson was invited as a guest
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Why? To make a booking
When: 7pm/Extra 9pm shows 20th, 21st and 22nd April
Where: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Off Little Collins Street Melbourne
Cost: $32 full price $28 concession
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