Can Touch This (An Hour of Touching in review)

William Edwards discovered that touching means two things, then laboured the pun.

An Hour of Touching is a musical sketch comedy show that centres around a pianist, a drag queen, and a “third one” coming together after the death of their billionaire partner. If you have taste, that premise is enough reason to see it. But it’s far from the only reason.

Performed in the Seymour Centre’s cosy Sound Lounge, Touching is best described as a particularly intimate performance. The cast capitalises on this small space to bring the audience as mentally close as they are physically.

Since the characters seem barely to know each other before the show begins, they largely become acquainted on-stage. This dynamic mirrors a growing relationship with the audience, who consequently find the characters easily relatable, thrown as they are into the familiar situation of a show starring people they don’t yet know.

This special empathy cranks Touching’s hilarity up to eleven. Brilliant writing and impeccable comic timing gives the audience no choice but to laugh. And sharing a character’s frustration makes that laughter all the more powerful, since we’re laughing not only at a good joke, but dealing with our own feelings as well.

The sketches interspersed throughout the primary narrative are equally amusing. While a few jokes may offend some viewers’ sensibilities, the show is always conscientious about the issues it laughs about. And when the butts of jokes are people rather than ideas, they’re always targets who deserve it.

Touching’s musical numbers are as witty as its dialogue. From hilarious songs that dominate scenes to smatterings that complement the action around them, the whole score is impressive in itself and perfectly integrated into the show at large.

Touching, which is presented by two former directors (Thomas Murphy and Charles Dormer) and a former star (Fran Giapanni) of Sydney University’s Queer Revue, is an official part of the Mardi Gras season. Your reviewer originally viewed it as part of Melbourne’s Midsumma Festival and couldn’t resist the urge to watch again, because it’s damn funny, rather audacious, and a little bit touching. Bring tissues.

An Hour of Touching’s final performance is tonight, at 7:30pm, in the Seymour Centre Sound Lounge. Tickets are available, from $20 here.

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