Geraldine Quinn: Stranger

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Steve Bennett

If you were looking to cast the role of a starwoman waiting in the sky (who’d like to come and meet us but thinks she'd blow our minds), Geraldine Quinn is just your woman.

This year, comedy’s glam rock queen is the otherworldly Stranger, an enigmatic figure sent to Earth to deliver a message and learn about humanity – only to find it’s us, and our conflicting emotions, that blows HER mind.

Such is the premise for this bombastic one-woman rock opera; belted out with intensity of both voice and performance, with forceful choreography and soul-piercing eye contact. We might be in a half-empty union meeting room, but she’s giving out as much oomph as if it were Madison Square Garden.

Her look is as powerful as her voice, too, with dramatic make-up and clad in a flamboyant shoulder-pad, Spandex and gold lamé combo that was acceptable in the Eighties.

The songs are great. Great, but not hilarious, which has to be a consideration for a comedy festival show – although there’s enough knowing wit to pass muster as cabaret or musical theatre. Her character’s tone is something like a B-movie alien asking hesitantly ‘what is this thing called "love " hat you speak of?’, then being inspired by romantic relationships or the bonds parents have with children, despite all the irritating baggage that comes with both.

The pitfalls of the ‘mangled and marvellous’ human condition are wryly reported, though nothing that would be too far out of the scope of a reasonable observational comedian. But Stranger is, at its heart, touching and tender, rather than loaded with the cynicism you might expect. Comedy-goers have become accustomed to big-production music being focussed on the trivial - just think of how many spoofs ending :The Opera! the Jerry Springer version spawned – so it’s a gutsy move to go for the sincere.

There’s a feeling these 45 minutes are a work in progress, which is as much as confirmed by Quinn as she breaks character to say her goodbyes. A better-developed plot and, if it’s to be a comedy show, stronger punchlines should be on her to-do list.

But it’s still an entertaining show, thanks to her supercharged performance, and for some of the ideas conveyed. One moment that particularly stands out is when Quinn’s Stranger attunes to our inner secrets – a cacophony of chatter she recorded from real people’s real confessions – which is a poignant and thoughtful theatrical moment of the sort that elevates the show.

Review date: 22 Apr 2013
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

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