Alan Brough: What Is It You Can't Face

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

Spicks and Specks regular Alan Brough promises to spice up the Sound Of Music with a one-man remake, as if directed by Quentin Tarantino. But the result is surprisingly flat, a limp pseudo-pastiche that’s unlikely to become one of your favourite things, despite the everyman charm of the performer.

What Is It You Can’t Face – named after one of the most famous misheard lines in movie history – has none of the performance pyrotechnics of a One Man Lord Of The Rings, none of the musical showmanship of Sammy J, none of the low-fi inventiveness of… well, countless shows that have attempted epic journeys on a op-shop budget.

In Brough’s reimagining, Maria flees the convent of the Sisters Of The Bloodied Fist, a violent training ground for killer nuns, before shacking up with the Von Trapps, ahead of an eventual showdown. That’s about the extent of the largely irrelevant plot.

The Kiwi veteran gets to show off his accents, particularly a terrifying Northern Irish Mother Superior; indulge in a few song-and-dance numbers (and he can carry a tune, even if he hasn’t much pizzazz); and even demonstrate a bit silly coital mime – all of which he mugs through, sometimes with a knowing nod to how lame it is, but not always. Insisting with the charade that this is all spontaneous – ‘I haven’t quite thought how to do this…’ – stretches credulity too much, however.

He enjoys rolling the word ‘wimple’ around his mouth, but that’s largely the level of the humour, once you’ve got over the joke of ultra-violent nuns. And, believe me, you get over that quite quickly. Elsewhere there are entendres here that barely qualify as double: ‘Would you like to handle my long weapon… it hasn’t been discharged in a while’ which even his likeability struggles to overcome.

Despite such misgivings, the humour certainly tickled one member of the audience tonight, and her piercing Aunt Agatha-style cackle, often at the most inappropriate moments, injected some much-needed hilarity. Brough should get her to come every night, as her laugh, and his initial reaction to it was priceless, but out of step with the script.

The rest of the hour just bumbled along with little excitement, despite being directed by Wilson Dixon creator Jesse Griffin. You wouldn’t say it was a terrible show… but you wouldn’t say it was much of anything, really. Your $30+ would be much wiser spent elsewhere.

Reviewed at the Melbourne Comedy Festival, April 2011

Review date: 1 Jan 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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