Review: I Can’t Stand Lorraine

Shelley Keehn in 'I Can't Stand Lorraine', running 5-13 July 2019 IMAGE: Mat Currie

No-one will forget February’s floods in a hurry.

Regardless of which suburb you were in, if you were in Townsville you were inundated by something – flood water, mould or just endless rain. For some of us the event was traumatic and for others it was a mild inconvenience, but we all have a story to tell and many of us seem to have found a funny side (even if we only laugh to keep from crying).

Creator and Director Brent Lammas, along with co-writer Susan Mattocks, has taken these funny stories to the next level with NQOMT’s original cabaret I Can’t Stand Lorraine. The show follows the story of the Ville family as they await the arrival of their old friend Lorraine, who never seems to make it to Townsville for one reason or another. When Lorraine finally does arrive – preceded by her sweaty friend Hugh Midity – it’s clear she does indeed bring the place to life. That is, until she overstays her welcome and her rowdy friends, and their rowdy friends, begin showing up and causing chaos.

Brent and Susan have packed this show full of not-so-subtle analogies and terrible puns; and it is absolutely brilliant!

From the moment we stepped through the curtain into NQOMT’s performance space, it was clear that this show would be a little different.

The production team has quite convincingly turned their space into the home of Anne and Dale Ville, and as Anne (Nancy Nicholson) filled the space with a welcoming warmth from the moment she stepped onto stage, it was easy to believe that we were sitting right in their living room.

Anne’s flurry of excitement as she tracks Lorraine’s arrival on her BOM app (Best of Mates) is matched by Dale’s anxious desire to see an old flame and Richard Price is simply endearing in this downtrodden-and-pining role. Adam Blake and Bronwyn Creedy round out the Ville family as five-year-old Douglas, and the blissfully dotty Nana Idalia, respectively.

Shelley Keehn shines as the title character, Lorraine. She brings a lovable ease to this flippant character, and that voice! Your jaw will drop when you hear Shelley belt out her first number. On top of that, the chemistry between Shelley and Jonathan Bell as Lorraine’s beau, Floody, had me truly hot under the collar – these two are terrific together! Jonathan takes some big risks in this show, which I’m sure the audience will love.

Bronwyn Creedy, Tina Sieferling and Sasha Holmes will make you feel like you’re in the Ville’s living room.

As Lorraine’s friends, Aqua, Evian and Electra; Kimberly Murphy, Sasha Holmes and Tina Sieferling are the girl gang you wish you had. Watching them continue their house party in the performance space during intermission was an absolute delight and I did wonder whether the props manager might have forgotten to replace the dark liquor with cold tea before the show.  

As Hugh Midity, Daniel Hill also made me hot under the collar. But not in the same way. He truly looked as though he was sweating through a classic North Queensland summer while the rest of us sat there in jeans and scarves; and I love that he just hung around for the duration of the show. Without giving too much away about their brilliant characters, Roymata Holmes was captivating as Muddy Rivers and Shari Lazzaroni was the most lovable patch of Mould I’ve ever seen – she almost made me want to pack away the vinegar. Almost.

If you haven’t worked it out for yourself – this show is wonderfully ridiculous and every single member of the cast has committed to the crazy, which is why it works so well. There are so many brilliant little moments: Nana Idalia handing out party streamers to the audience, Anne Ville pausing the action for a chat with the crowd, a great gag with two pieces of bread that was sheer genius, and plenty of encouragement to sing along

The show strings a slew of rain-related bangers together with quick-fire jokes, lots of physical comedy and a few shameless plugs. You’ll need to keep your eyes and ears peeled at all times.

If you have ever experienced a significant rain event in North Queensland, you are guaranteed to laugh and nod along from start to finish.

Catch NQOMT’s I Can’t Stand Lorraine at the NQOMT Hall Gill Park on 5, 6, 12 and 13 July 2019. View performance times and book tickets here.

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