For many of us, primary school may feel like a lifetime ago, but Mel O’Brien and Samantha Andrew have brought our younger years back in a big way with ‘No Hat, No Play! The Cabaret’.
Over the course of an hour and dressed in primary school uniform style garb with bright yellow shirts, Volley shoes, and Vegemite socks, the dynamic duo take us on an original pop-infused trip to an Australian primary school, set in Grade 6 during the early 2000s. The show is filled with extreme nostalgia, the crazy classmates we once knew, and the even more ridiculous students that we once were.
Both taking on multiple characters to display the antics of primary school students in the past over several well-choreographed and directed sketches, O’Brien and Andrew perform original songs including ‘I Love You, James L.’ which shares of a first crush, ‘Why’d You Steal My Juice Box’ which tells of a betrayal due to a stolen drink, and ‘I Am A Horse’ because we all knew of that one girl in primary school (hell, I knew several), absolutely unhealthily obsessed with ponies, horses, and Daryl Braithwaite’s ‘The Horses’ just because it bloody mentions, you guessed it – horses.
O’Brien and Andrew have amazing chemistry together on-stage. Their professionalism is second to none when they continuously break the fourth wall to cheekily address the audience, sometimes tech, bounce off each other, and yet still manage to consistently maintain the hilarity and entertainment that the pair passionately set out to achieve. Their vocals are also fantastic to the point that during the ballads, I couldn’t help but wonder how the two would be like when performing more serious content. They both really did surprise me and their voices also harmonise together beautifully.
The show is filled with sketches that get funnier and funnier after the next, and I admire how authentic O’Brien and Andrew have made ‘No Hat, No Play! The Cabaret’, right down to the scissoring Barbie dolls, shamelessly doing things in front of the preps, badly playing the recorder, eating things that we probably shouldn’t consume, and even the sing-song hand clap choreography that we used to do with our schoolmates.
Although the show is indeed hilarious, I couldn’t help but think of the bigger picture and deeper message behind ‘No Hat, No Play! The Cabaret’. The production perfectly captures a moment in time when the world was a much safer place, and how innocent and wonderful school really was way back then. The problems that we initially felt were huge, aren’t so big anymore in comparison to our adult lives.
Gone are the days where kids would willingly play outside and care as much for toys. Technology, the internet, and social media have changed the way children interact with the world, in school, and with each other. In many instances, it’s not for the better.
‘No Hat, No Play! The Cabaret’ is complete and utter chaos and ridiculously fun. With two super impressive comedy powerhouses who I have no doubt with will wow us for years to come (I mean, they’re already doing it now),‘ No Hat, No Play! The Cabaret’ is also a heartfelt look at how incredibly lucky we were to grow up in such a blissful special time.
‘No Hat, No Play! The Cabaret’ was performed at the 2022 Melbourne Fringe from Sunday October 16th to Sunday October 23rd.
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Photography by Francis Cao.