La Bohème
Until 05 Mar 2017

Review by Linda Edwards

The Johnny Ace of the title refers to the 1950s American rhythm and blues (later rock and roll) singer, whose career ended abruptly when he accidentally shot himself in the head one night in 1954. According to their publicity blurb, the actors presenting this show are channelling their ‘spirit guides’, writer Sam Shepard and poet/singer Patti Smith, who wrote and acted in a play “Cowboy Mouth” in 1971, which features stories of Johnny Ace and other unfortunates.

The two Sydney based performers (Jane Louise Mahady and Andreas Lohmeyer) begin with an amusing skit that cleverly weaves various foodstuffs into extracts from Hamlet, and a voiceover that allows the audience to realise they are portraying small-time actors in a children’s show, presumably aiming to encourage kids to eat their vegetables. The amusement soon wears thin, however, as the same skit is repeated several times with only minor variations.

The show picks up again with an audition relating to Johnny Ace. While this turn of events offers plenty opportunities for conflict for the performers, who have to choose between their friendship, their regular job of carrot-broccoli Hamlet, their desire for acting fame, and the more than questionable ethics of the Johnny Ace job, those opportunities are barely taken up.

Both Mahady and Lohmeyer are good actors and have great comedic timing, and they are believable and offer moments of fun, but the premise of the show is thin and undeveloped, even though the idea holds a great deal of promise. Unfortunately, in its present form the piece has so little to say that it is all over in twenty-five minutes instead of the advertised one hour.

Rating: 2.5 stars (out of 5)