This piece is from our continuing coverage of Sydney Fringe Festival over the next month. Check out the rest of the content here.
I walked into The Newsagency, a newly relocated venue that was almost camouflaged by a set of industrial style buildings. My wine glass was filled to the brim, and I walked through heavy stage curtains to find seats among the eclectic assortment of dining chairs. The setting was perfect for the creative, boundary pushing marvel that was Two Girls One Show.
The show consisted of two separate comedy cabaret acts by two women performers, both of whom were ‘popping the cherry’ of their first solo stage acts. Jenna Ray and Harriet Jane portrayed disparate content, but with matched enthusiasm that made for a hilarious and riveting night.
Jenna started her performance with a burlesque-style spectacle of making her bed, which left herself and the the audience breathless. We sat anticipating Jenna’s painfully honest look at all things masturbation and sex.
Jenna used her natural charisma to her advantage throughout the show—she excelled at goading the audience to participate without the awkwardness that usually accompanies interactive theatre. From relatable musings about Kate McKinnon to a High School Musical song and dance number about deciding on a career path, Jenna delved into the many random places our thoughts stray to in the shower.
Self-appointed professor Harriet Jane then took the stage to take us on a journey through the online world of the Flat Earth conspiracy theory. After taking in her incredible outfit choice—complete with ripped fishnet stockings, a pink leather look skirt and a huge purple fur coat—the audience was led into quite disturbing territory. But Harriet managed to make the heavy-weight topics of the prevalence of of anti-semitism and alt-right discourse humorous, with her scathing commentary and quirky mannerisms.
Harriet’s set eventually dove into on a more stock standard stand up style, which she made relatable by checking her notes every so often. But the lecture style of Harriet’s stand up—especially her earnest proclamations about opening our eyes to the truth around us— felt jarring after Jenna’s boisterous cabaret act. This lack of cohesion is expected when two very different shows are placed in one, but having no thematic consistency makes an audience wonder what the experience would have been like if these had been two separate shows.
Harriet and Jenna nonetheless appeared totally at ease on stage throughout the show, battling technical and sound difficulties with the coolness of seasoned performers. Their witty and compelling show was a perfect example of why the Sydney Fringe Festival is so important; it gives us the significant opportunity to see acts with a creativity and intelligence not often present in mainstream comedy.
These funny ladies return to the stage on Thursday 20th September in the final showing of Two Girls One Show, an ‘educational and hopefully funny’ experience one cannot miss.