Mel & Sam have become a Fringe and Comedy Festival staple.
Having experienced their chaotic form of musical and sketch comedy before with their shows No Hat, No Play and High Pony. One show has eluded me – Sh*t Wrecked. For whatever reason, I just never had the chance to see it. Thankfully, this year’s Melbourne Fringe saw the return of Sh*t Wrecked but for two shows only, and I was determined to see it before it disappears for good.
Sh*t Wrecked is set as a musical sketch comedy, aboard the best queer party cruise on earth, the Spirit of Tasmania. Dressed in sparkly bathing suits, the duo opened with a number that I suspect is titled, ‘We’re on a Cruise’. Simply because it begins with same repetitive lyrics “We’re on a cruise!” for the first verse. The number then goes on to poke fun at cruise ships in general.
With lyrics such as “lifeboats are for women and children, all the men are drowning”, and “ships are hot”. Even throwing in some jokes about Titanic, naming Peter Dutton a ‘transatlantic bitch’, and a chorus singing about how they are “horny for the sea”. This opening number is over 5 minutes of chaos and has so many lyrics, I have no idea how they remember them all, let alone the entire show.
This particular show is a product of the COVID lockdowns, not directly written about COVID, but inspired by some of the events that occurred during the time. Namely, the whole debacle of the cruise ships docking in Sydney. But rather than drilling deeper into the hate they received, the show is an attempt to ‘bring them back’. There is even some fun poked at the conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers towards the end of the show.
One thing was abundantly clear about this show, and well, any show that Mel & Sam produce, is that they are unapologetically open about their lives and are not afraid to tackle topics that many would find taboo. One such number was about Mel’s sexual conquest with a DePop seller. There is also a number in the style of the musical Sweeney Todd, with a tale about a ghost on the ship. During this number, Mel is dressed as a witch, but forgot her wand, so was just parading around the stage pointing at things with her finger. It was hilarious! There is even a parody about Frozen with Sam in a ratty onesie she picked up from Savers. The entire audience couldn’t contain their laughter.
Probably one of the best moments of Sh*t Wrecked occurred when Mel performed a solo number with an acoustic guitar in a sort of brit-pop parody. Not only was the voice acting and the lyrics funny as hell but about 4 bars into the number, the top E string snapped. Struggling the contain herself from laughter as the audience went into hysterics, Mel’s quick wit kicked in, saying “Aye, that’s rock n roll man” and mentioning that the rest of the number is going to be “A little A-tonal”. As hilarious as it was, Mel’s professionalism and musicality shined as she powered through. Even adjusting her own vocals to match the new tones from the busted guitar.
Not only are Mel & Sam extremely funny and have the comic timing that most would envy, but they have an unspoken, almost telepathic, synchronicity with each other. Even with the broken guitar, when Sam entered the stage, she was able to adjust to compensate, almost as if it was rehearsed. The pair each have a set of killer vocals to match the musical nature of the show. Not only can they reach notes some singers would struggle to hit, but they also play with their vocal performances, adding an additional comical element to the numbers that already have funny lyrics.
Performing at The Ukiyo tent in Prahran, the pair were excited to perform in a venue they have never ventured in before. Explaining to the crowd they were still getting used to the space, performing ‘in the round’. Aside from some teething problems with the sound at the start of the show that quickly levelled out, the pair performed extremely well in the space. If anything, the space suited them even more, allowing for some more crowd work that would otherwise be missed with a regular stage. Including Mel giving me the old handshake-fake-away trick.
I am so thankful that I finally got the chance to see the hilarious chaos that is, Sh*t Wrecked. And lucky I did as the pair explained it is likely the final ever season of this show. With only two performances at Melbourne Fringe as part of So Soiree, proudly presented by the City of Stonnington, the final show is tonight (Saturday the 21st of October).
So, grab your best cruise attire and set sail for The Ukiyo tent in Prahran as this is likely the last chance you will ever have to see Sh*t Wrecked before it departs port forever.
One thing is for certain, with three incredible productions already in their repertoire, I cannot wait to see what Mel & Sam create next!
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Photography by Parenthesy.