What I love about the Melbourne Fringe Festival is that it provides the opportunity for fresh new acts to try out their wares. True to form, I’m told that the writer and performer of this show Kate Hanley is a newcomer to the performance space, which she pulls off with gusto and lots of wasabi.
Memoirs of an Aisha is a fun frolic through the dairy lands of Australia to the city of Tokyo in one woman’s bid to learn the ancient art of Geisha to steal her man back from a Japanese woman. There are twists and turns, songs and swoons, even a When Harry Met Sally moment with an orgasm Geisha style (blush).
What this show does well is its commitment to a strong narrative and themes that keep it moving at a rapid pace that is well suited to comedy. The songs are delightful and well rounded, aptly supported by the very talented Dairy Chicks (Emma Hart and Libby Sherring).
There are plenty of moments when the comedy is clever and Hanley appears relaxed and is having a ball. And so is the audience. Some of the comedy, though, is too obvious, which is a mistake most rookies make. Nonetheless, I imagine anyone truly dedicated to writing and performing comedy can overcome this.
One of Hanley’s greatest assets is her ability to nail the nuances of her characters and interchange with each character seamlessly. One of my favourite characters was Mrs Okaytobashme, who made me laugh every time. The sumo wrestler was also lots of fun.
Hats off to Hanley for a really well-constructed show and though she stumbled occasionally it’s hard to believe this is her first time performing. Unfortunately this show’s season ended last night but I’ll be interested to see how Hanley evolves both as a writer and performer in the future.