The Birds and the Beats

Let’s talk about sex, baby. That’s the premise of Grant Busé’s show, The Birds and the Beats. Armed with only the basics (mic, guitar, and loop pedal) the Melbourne-based performer welcomes the audience to class and proposes to teach us Sex Ed 101. It’s apparent from the first song, the titular “Birds and the Bees”, that Busé won’t be pulling any punches. He raps verses over looped beats that include lines such as “I’m sick of metaphors, similes, analogies. Let’s talk about sex. Fuck the birds and the bees”, before launching straight into a verse explaining sex, sans the metaphors.

Busé, an actual teacher, takes us on a journey of curiosity via his younger self speaking to his present-day self, asking the kinds of questions he wishes had been answered by his sexual education. His topics (and songs) range from the horrors of intercourse in the animal kingdom to the importance of “no glove, no love”. At one point, a song about BDSM that begins with Busé listing experiences he’s had (with the audience encouraged to woo! if they’ve had a similar experience) becomes a song about a loss of trust. The mood only dips for a moment though because this begets an innuendo-filled segue into a discussion about why we still don’t use condoms.

Performed in the cosy BoardRoom at RAJOPOLIS at Raj House, where the back row is only a few metres from the stage, The Birds and the Beats really does feel like a lesson, or conversation, where the audience readily participates and elicits reactions from the performer. This is encouraged right from the first song in a call and response, then continues as Busé asks the crowd what they wish they’d learnt in Sex Ed (among other questions), and finally when he opens the floor to questions about his own sex life. The result is an intimate atmosphere where it doesn’t feel odd to hear a stranger sing very frankly about their sexual experiences.

Underpinning the hysterical jokes and original songs is an important theme that Busé urges us to take home: we need to be teaching kids more than just the biology of sex. We may have been taught more about playing the recorder at school than informed consent, but that doesn’t mean we can’t improve sexual education for kids today.

And when class is over, it’s not hard to see why Busé’s musical Sex Ed is such a hit. The Birds and the Beats is an ingenious comedy-music show that will make you laugh ‘til you cry, bemoan your own sexual education, and leave you wondering just how you’ll explain the birds and the bees.

 


Words by Amelia Heffernan.

5 stars

The Birds and the Beats is playing at RAJOPOLIS at Raj House until March 18. Tickets available here.

PO PO MO CO: Nosfer-Arse-Tu

PoPoMoCo’s Nosfer-Arse-Tu is a rollicking, fabulous force of queer ass (pun intended) pantomime. The show is presented by an upcoming queer-clown group known for this very particular brand of off the wall, yet socially acute, humour. Nosfer-Arse-Tu is a not-so-classical retelling of ‘man goes on a journey and winds up at a dark and mysterious castle’. Narrated by naughty-nurse Regina (rhymes with vagina), the Doctor protagonist is on a ‘frivolous homosexual adventure’ and is followed by his wife who’s bored of waiting at home.

A cast of strange and creepy characters support the story, not the least of whom consist of an actual face for a vagina complete with disco-ball clitoris – the appearance of whom was one of the funniest parts of the show. The face-vagina is not the only animated body part; the ‘arse’ of Nosfer-Arse-Tu comes into play. I can honestly say that I’ve never seen such a well animated arse only using giant googly eyes, a pair of plastic lips, and some hands. The sheer farce of it was side-splitting.

The show is quite pacey, and Nurse Regina keeps everything moving to naturally facilitate scene changes. Her dialogue with the audience ensures that they stay engaged even when some of jokes miss the mark and the audience was kept laughing to the brink of tears.

The show isn’t just funny. As my friend, who saw it with me, pointed out; Nosfer-Arse-Tu features some fantastically indulgent love for femme sexuality and beyond the jokes, it also makes a point of making “receptive” sexuality active rather than passive. The contrast between ‘women downs down for so long her fingers are pruney’ verses ‘man fall asleep straight after receiving pleasure’ was a complete crack-up to watch. LGBTQIA+ references abound throughout the show and the actors seem to delight in undermining heterosexual narrative norms.

This just a bloody-good-fun show to watch overall; audience engagement with the actors abounds, farce is the order of the day, and rude-and-naughty humour comes with every second line. If you’re here for a good time, but not necessarily a long time, be sure not to miss PoPoMoCo’s Nosfer-Arse-Tu.

 


Words by Taeghan Buggy

4 stars.

PO PO MO CO is playing at RAJOPOLIS at Raj House until March 18 (excluding Mondays). Tickets available here.

 

Mental As Everything

Mental as Everything charts the breadth of two talented musicians’ personal experiences with mental health. Immediately impressive due to the significant talent of Damon Smith and Adam Coad, the performance only grows in strength as it continues. The depth of meaning and feeling charted by their assortment of songs and open discourse with the audience is something quite special. The show possesses something that cannot be fabricated by any amount of skill or talent – it has something intimate, understanding, and very, very true about it.

Exploring the effects and impacts of depression, anxiety, OCD, panic attacks, and bipolar disorder, the performance tackles its issues with humour, earnestness, and truth. It’s a show with a message and while that message is definitely front and centre of the show, it doesn’t fall into preachy territory that could undercut its own meaning. It succeeds entirely in formulating an experience that both delivers a message and entertains. Thought-provoking theatre at its best, Mental as Everything is a valuable show. Sadly, the run has finished but hopefully the Smith and Coad will return before long to offer more of this show.

Almost confessional in its honesty, Mental as Everything ticks every necessary box to be a marvellous and worthy experience. Both Smith and Coad offer us an insight into their own respective lives, giving specific examples of the way they interact with mental health daily.

The performance features a range of new and familiar songs that are used to expertly weave a musical exploration of mental health issues. Songs of their own composition mix perfectly with other more familiar songs like Trent Reznor’s Hurt (the Johnny Cash version) to form a perfect song-scape of mental health exploration.

With its wonderful balance of music, truth, and a message to share, Mental as Everything is simply necessary viewing. The chances of any given individual having their own experience with mental health is very high and as Smith and Coad say in their performance, we live in a transitional period. It is becoming easier for individuals to acknowledge a struggle with mental health without being harshly judged, but this performance plays its own part in pushing for more significant movement on that front.

Not only all those worthy, important issues, but also this show exhibits the most exhilarating shoe-on, shoe-off sequence you are ever likely to see.

 


Words by Liam McNally

4½ stars.