An Australian speed skater that shot to fame during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games after he won Gold. However, it was the way that he won that made him a household name. All other opponents took each other out on the final lap, leaving the door wide open for Bradbury to skate on through to victory. This iconic moment in Australian history has been referenced many times. However, I never thought I would get to experience a musical about the event.
Thankfully, Melbourne Fringe has returned, and a new event is set to tell the tale of Steven Bradbury that nobody has ever heard!
Created by George Glass Productions, an art-rock band from Adelaide, Bradbury the Musical is a chaotic retelling of Steven Bradbury’s conquest to win Gold. The comedy trio consist of Pud Hamilton who portrays Steven Bradbury and is on vocals and guitar, Nic Conway in the multi-role of Narrator, Doctor, Neil Armstrong, Tonia Harding, unborn twin Steven and Mr Chicken (voice), also on vocals and piano, and finally, Chris Nenov as multiple characters including Bradbury’s Mother, a Russian Devil, Tony Hawk and Cystopher, also on vocals and drums.
The performance opens with the birth of Steven Bradbury, with Nenov sitting on a trolley as the mother, and Conway as a doctor that clearly needs his medical licence revoked. I never thought I would experience a live birthing on stage, but I did. In a stroke of pure comic genius, Hamilton arose from beneath the trolley. Complete with a crash helmet and a baby doll strapped around his chin. It was both hilarious and disturbing at the same time! There was even some silly putty style goo that was covering his face.
As the narrative continued, it was clear that Bradbury the Musical is less about the actual winning of the race. Even though there is a wonderful re-enactment of this moment at the end of the show. It is more about the potential demons and struggles that Bradbury faced in the lead up to the race. There is even a literal elephant in the room as Bradbury takes on these mental struggles, including all the different stages of grief.
Bradbury prays to the skate gods that sees the arrival of Tony Hawk and Tonia Harding that each hilariously relate to their own successes as ‘skaters’ to advise Bradbury on what he needs to do. There is an ‘un-birthing’ that sees Bradbury return to the womb, meeting an unborn sibling and his ‘Cystopher’. Do not ask me to explain it! Is so wrong yet so hilariously funny at the same time.
The almost one-hour performance even tackles performance enhancing drugs with the arrival of the Russian sports dignitary that is represented as the Devil, with his pet Lance Armstrong following him around, that results in musical number, ‘The Devil’s Gonna Give You a Blowjob’.
Other musical numbers cover: the birth of Bradbury including the deformity of having skates for feet that will make the birthing process easy, removing the elephant in the room; and even Tonia Harding advising to take somebody’s kneecaps away. In between numbers, we got to hear from a sponsor ‘Mr Chicken’. The sponsor ads were just as funny as the musical numbers themselves and I always found myself looking forward to what crazy sponsor ad we’d hear next.
There is also other sponsored content that is referred to throughout the show. Seemingly as Bradbury’s career shifted after his win to covering a whole heap of product endorsements, the show leans into this and takes full advantage of any chance it got. For instance, the baseball bat that Tonia Harding wields? Well, it gets its own short advertisement endorsed by Bradbury. They are littered throughout the show and are hilarious.
The George Glass trio are seasoned professionals when it comes to musical comedy. It is clear that they have mastered their comedic style of whacky, shocking, and stupid humour, a mixture that works extremely well for them. Their use of props, costumes and even some fake blood make for a chaotic thrill ride of a show. It is no frills, but it just works. These guys prove that you do not need a big budget to pull off a great production if the content is good enough!
Bradbury the Musical is 100% not what I expected it to be and that is the idea. People come into the show with a preconceived idea, and they are completely surprised by what unfolds. I am thankful that I got the chance to experience this production and I cannot wait to see what George Glass Productions creates next.
Bradbury the Musical is now playing at 2023 Melbourne Fringe until Sunday the 22nd of October.
For more information and ticketing, visit:
Photography by Adrian Thompson.