With this comedy show, everything you need to know is in the title. It is quite literally Gavin Roach attempting (and failing) to sing a variety of spngs, with some dialogue and costume changes in.
The physoca; space of Tasma Terrace makes for an interesting show dynamic. The venue is small (a refurbished sitting room from an older terrace house), which means there is no space between the performer and audience, creating an intimate environment where the audience and performer were very aware of each other. The lights weren’t even dimmed, so you could see everything on stage (and likewise, in the audience).
Roach had some cool costume changes throughout, which added variety to the show. There was a wide variety of different outfits, which suited the styles of songs performed, as well as the stories that accompanied them.
Despite the positive elements of the show, there were some drawbacks. It felt amateurish in many ways – perhaps it was the nervousness of a performer with a small crowd, or the fact that he seemed to know members of the audience, but there were moments where he mixed up lyrics and made the occasional mistake. Whilst he would quickly recover, and was able to respond to heckling effectively, these slip ups were noticeable and did detract somewhat from the show.
The show also felt a little bit niche in its approach. Some of the jokes required knowledge of locations and their stereotypes in Australia that not everyone may be aware of – especially a Melbournian audience. Furthermore, the fact that Roach couldn’t actually sing the songs was something that grew repetitive, and the lack of substantial other jokes and familiar material meant the show seemed repetitive.
In Roach’s defence, his audience wasn’t ideal. Small, well-lit venues are notoriously difficult for performers as you are acutely aware of the mood of the room, which also means you are acutely aware when people are on their phones or who get up and leave. Audience etiquette 101: you are watching someone perform, it is the bare minimum to sit there and not be a distraction to the performer. It certainly is impolite to just leave 15 minutes into a show. (Editor’s note: and it goes way beyond impolite to be on your fucking phone, that’s unacceptable)
This style of humour was probably better suited to a pub night or some venue where there could be people singing along (maybe even requesting songs), but because of the structure of the show and the venue, it felt a little hollow and empty. Perhaps it requires a more engaged audience, or even a larger one – certainly not an audience who are mildly disinterested.
Overall, it was alright. Perhaps it was nerves, or this reviewers lack of niche knowledge to make the humour hit home, or the venue/audience lack of participation, but the show felt a bit flat.
All the Songs I Can’t Sing is on at Tasma Terrace from 29 March until 8 April (no shows on Sundays) as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Tickets range between $15 – $25 and are available from the comedy festival website.