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HillnDale & The LD50s Presents: Tunes and Tales.
Nicholas Building. Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Review: Greg Phillips

Looking stunning bathed in red light and enticing you siren-like into it’s opulence, visitors to Melbourne would be be forgiven for thinking that the Melbourne Town Hall is the be-all and end-all of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. However it doesn’t take too much of a stroll around town to discover that if it’s a cafe, bar or theatre space of any kind, it’s probably housing a comedy show.

Tonight we found ourselves on the 5th floor of the Nicholas Building, a Melbourne landmark known for its ‘Chicago School’ architecture and arts-related tenancy. The show we’re here to see tonight is HillnDale & The LD50s presents: Tunes and Tales, an hour-long piece of improvised musical theatre or as Hill Kuttner tells us in his intro, “The universe will never put atoms together like this ever again.”

A call to the audience for tonight’s theme results in ‘Ant Farms’! As HillnDale head sidestage with the luxury of a few minutes to mine their heads for possible ant-related jokes and anecdotes, the LD50s plunge straight off a cliff into song with singer James Ward immediately latching onto the insect-associated topic and coming out of it alive with some well-earned laughs.

HillnDale return to the stage to build a sketch, focussing on their newly found world of ants, riffing on the theme, searching for the quickest route to laughs, which come often enough to sustain the audience’s favour. Short moments of rumination are easily forgiven, the art of thinking ahead while still managing to deliver comedic lines in the present is no small task. Both Hillndale and The LD50s are no strangers to improvised comedy, they have all honed their skills at Melbourne’s acclaimed Improv Conspiracy Theatre for a couple of years and it shows.

Musically The LD50s set the mood, moving the energy from Ward’s contemplative ballad about a couple’s issues in raising 400 ant children to a jazz flavoured piece on wanting to be anyone but yourself, especially if you’re Hitler, to a punked-up tale of an ant contemplating his short week-long life and planning to live it out hard. Doug Neale adds tasteful and complementary beats via his Roland V-drum kit, while Haydn Noble on his Fender Jag and an impressive array of pedals paints the appropriate sonic picture.

The comedic chemistry of Hill Kuttner’s excitable energy versus Dale Anderson’s more subdued, dry humour works a treat and the LD50s’ musical interludes tie the show together wonderfully. You can catch the remaining ‘Tunes and Tales’ shows at the Nicholas Building from April 4-7 and be assured that each new performance will be completely different to the last.


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