Melbourne’s Po Po Mo Co are an experimental queer comedy troupe, with a twist.

If their show at Melbourne Fringe was any guide, the troupe is onto something. Entitled Recreation and Leisure, the show featured in the Lithuanian Club during the festival’s final week.

A potent brew of circus, drag, comedy an burlesque, Po Po Mo Co are carving out a very healthy niche. The East Brunswick collective are one of the most interesting, and not coincidentally most enjoyable, examples of a new wave of what used to be called ‘hybrid performance’.

A lively romp well deserving of its 10pm start time, Recreation and Leisure attempted nothing more nor less serious than a rollicking good night out.

The performance moved from awkward sketch comedy through pure physical hijinks, poor burlesque, social observation and artful drag. A highlight was a particularly excruciating wedding speech, as was a hysterically silly physical gag featuring unicorns. I may never feel the same way about school netball after seeing  this show.

What united these rather disparate elements was a strong aesthetic spine, anchored in love of the various forms, and a shrewd dramatic understanding of how to subvert them. A knowing political satire drifts throughout Po Po Mo Co’s work, as the pretensions of young parents and the certainties of straight Anglo society are mocked with merciless disdain.

The steady hand of director Liz Skitch was evident throughout, imbuing the incipient chaos with evident experience and theatrical nous. What could have been a lolly bag of saccharine sweets was given some thematic unity by snappy timing and careful attention to detail.  The performances were surprisingly assured, particularly from the likes of Kimberley Twiner, Lily Fish and Claire Sullivan, with the artist Precious Cargo worthy of special mention.

It wasn’t a surprise to see Recreation and Leisure nominated for a number of gongs at the Melbourne Fringe Awards, with the performance taking home the ‘Original New Circus’ prize. After scoring themselves some investment from the Adelaide Fringe, Po Po Mo Co’s future looks gratifyingly bright.


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