Review: High Fidelity | HerCanberra

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Review: High Fidelity

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I’ve been given the wonderful opportunity to see a local Canberra musical based on a cult movie that I’ve watched several times. It’s one of those classic movies where you feel a connection with the characters, and even though they’re all terribly flawed, you envy their position in life and wish you were just a bit as cool as them.

The movie turned musical is High Fidelity. Emily Allen met with the co-director of the show, Sarah Hull here.

My friend A and I decided to make an evening of it. She’s visiting from the Solomons and me, well I don’t get out a lot, so it was dinner at a hip trendy restaurant and then the show. We were trés excited. Dinner was awesome, and we were in fine spirits walking back from Moore St to where we’d parked at the ANU, near  the Arts and Music school, where we assumed the show would be. Funnily though, there was not a sign of anyone else. So we asked a couple of students, do you know where the Arts Centre is? No, they’d only just arrived in Australia, so nope. Neither did the next four groups we asked. So we walked, and rang Security, who gave us really weird directions, and then walked some more. Seems no one on campus knows where the Arts Centre is. We finally found two ladies, not students, putting up posters and asked them. Of course, they knew. Go that way, to the courtyard, they pointed. When you find God, you’re there. Those words could only have been uttered in the grounds of a University.

We found it just in time for the glass to be rung and the seats to be taken. Something that we had to check out on leaving the show was the boxes of free Liptons tea, piled up on pallets outside the theater. Intriguing. We found our seats after we followed a truly eclectic crowd of people into the theater. What struck me, was that this audience wasn’t the young to middle aged group I had assumed would be a fan of High Fidelity, but it ranged in age from the 14 yr old boy (next to us, who guffawed every time the word ‘sex’ was uttered. And ‘sex’ was said often. So was the F word, just saying…), to the lovely lady in the twilight of her life who looked like she belonged on the stage, or had spent many an hour in the theatre over her long life. I’d love to hear her stories.

Now to the musical itself. I will be honest and say I had a certain expectation of the cast, as I know the movie so well. So I was a bit thrown when I didn’t warm to the lead character Rob, and wondered where the soundtrack to the film was? After reading more about the show, this morning, I found that it had an original score. My fault for not doing my research. The songs, though, were great. And I loved, loved, loved the dude who played Barry, Max Gamble. He was a crack up, superbly powerful voice and had picked up a few Jack Black characterisations, which was great. Will Huang, the young guy who played Dick, has a fantastic voice and I would love to see him go further in the musical field; he’s also a very effective actor. I truly believed he was a complete geek 🙂

Amy Dunham as Liz was also brilliant, and on reading that she has a band with Max – AMAX –  I’m determined to seek them out. They’d be a right treat to see live. I enjoyed Josie Dunham as Laura – she belted out some great songs, especially with Ian (David Cannell). She has a real way with the comedic role she’s been given and does it justice. Ian is a hoot. The scene where he confronts Rob in the music store is fantastic. The players did themselves proud in that hectic, very physically funny, scene. That made my night, it was a cracker.

Did the musical take me back to the movie? Did I feel a connection to the players as in the film? Probably not, but I still enjoyed the evening a lot. The crew came alive in the second part of the musical and I seemed to enjoy the pickup of the pace a bit better than the first half. The nightclub scene at the end  was great, and I couldn’t take my eyes off Liz and Max, they had all the chemistry on stage, well played them.

Would I recommend seeing High Fidelity for those obsessed with the original movie and serious music lovers expecting to see the soundtrack come alive on stage? No, probably not. But would I recommend seeing High Fidelity for great local talent, a good night out and a laugh while tappin the toes?


P.S. I scored a box of sweet passionfruit and raspberry tea. Three pallets of tea had pretty much disappeared on our exit, people had filled bags and bags of the boxes and seemed pretty happy with themselves. Weird.

the essentials

What: High Fidelity
When: Until Saturday 21 February
Where: ANU Arts Centre & Teatro Vivaldi

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