ELIZABETH - MELBOURNE
ELIZABETH, Melbourne Fringe - Butterfly Club Melbourne, 18-24 September 2017. Photography Ben Mastwyk - Lisa Crawley
“Elizabeth” (Lisa Crawley) is the name of the “musical wallpaper” piano player who is spending her life playing in hotel lounges and bars. She’s heard all the lines before, such as “don’t give up ya day job”, “hey you’re not bad”, “we love what you’re doing dare but, um, could you turn it down a bit”; and has experienced everything from the bar manager forgetting to turn off the muzak during her set to the obligatory requested Christmas carol that haunts her every move.
The highs of this sort of gig is the tip jar, we learn from Crowley who is also an accomplished indie song writer; the lows include being placed next to the men’s toilet!
Crawley has a great voice and is equally fine and dexterous on the piano – times two! (My eyes were constantly drawn to her feet searching for pedals and pushing buttons.) There is also a pre-recorded track that is used for ancillary sounds and backing vocals. She also plays guitar and wrote the piece with Rochelle Bright.
The narrative, directed by Kitan Petkovski, takes the audience through the many bars in which Elizabeth has played and to a contract in Japan where she meets an English bloke who she hooks up with. They have a fine old time until he is diagnosed with a terminal illness and goes back to England sans Elizabeth who, crestfallen, herself heads home – to New Zealand.
Having worked in the piano bar game for most of her life, she knows tens of thousands of songs. So this is where audience participation begins as hopefuls throw song titles at her and then they gets to do the backing vocals; for better or worse.
The show has a good structure, and Crawley has a fine voice, but you need an audience in tune with your to fire up, which was a bit tricky on opening night when the sounds of a fun time in the upstairs bar tended to pull focus.