Lauren McNaught and Rachael Fairweather come together as comedic duo, the ‘Noodle Girls,’ and promise audiences an hour of “high-energy silliness and absurdity” in their show Shmood: Full Throttle, as a part of Sydney Comedy Festival 2019, and they certainly deliver on their promise.
But in a show overflowing with skits (each preceded by on-stage costume changes) the pace is so high-energy that it often leaves the duo quite literally, breathless — and is just a little too much of a good thing.
In the show’s opening the duo go straight into a hybrid between a synchronised dance routine and fight scene. A couple of minutes in, there’s a change in music, and with it comes a new, comically sexual tone as the duo strip down into fluoro bodysuits. Then just as quickly, the Noodle Girls try to engage their audience by asking for topic suggestions for some improvised stand-up comedy. Though their responses to the suggestion of ‘planes’ make the audience laugh, there’s too little time for the improv to develop, and it feels forced.
Similarly, some shorter sketches, particularly when it’s clear that the length of the sketch has been sacrificed to give the duo time to change and set up, are the weak points of the show. The sketch about a corporatised psychic with a naïve client, is particularly guilty of this. One cannot help but feel disappointed due to the lengthy set-up time and entertaining premise, followed by brief, ham-handed humour so the sketch does not run overtime.
But when the duo slow down, and settle into their characters during long sketches – they are engaging, interactive, and hilarious.
The Noodle Girls shine in their first, long sketch playing Terry and Jan, two ocker patriots hoping to “boost workplace morale.” Having settled into the scene, the duo’s satire of Australian culture is befitting of The Betoota Advocate. Their dialogue engages with the audience’s shock interestingly by adopting it as part of their characters. They satirise ‘carefree’ ocker culture by prescribing a three-step “coo-ee” remedy (inhale, “co”, “ee”) that they have the audience member repeat until her tone goes from emotional and tentative to an enthusiastic shout, gathering a raucous laughter from the audience.
Other stand-out sketches include the Girls playing two hot, straight white girls attending Mardi Gras, parodying millennial heterosexual engagement with queer culture; as well as a sketch starring two bored women at work that lets us witness a hilarious satirical song about absurd fashion trends like mules. But the easy stand-out was the Girls’ sketch playing two border control officers. Their re-creation of finding Schapelle’s boogie board, and their improv interrogating an audience member cast as the board’s owner, brings some of the audience to tears.
All in all, Shmood: Full Throttle is a show allows the promising talent of McNaught and Fairweather to shine through. The Noodle Girls need only let ‘less is more’ be its shmood to ensure future shows are ever-better.