THE CHOIR OF MAN ★★★★
Presented by Andrew Kay and Nic Doodson
Arts Centre Melbourne, until January 12
Free beer. This show has free beer, and on a sweltering summer’s night with bushfires raging across the state, a large section of the audience swarmed onstage – decorated as an English pub, complete with bar taps – to quench their thirst once the pre-show invitation went out.
Whether this was to prove necessary lubrication or convivial scene-setting (theatre-goers who saw the musical Once will remember a similar opening gambit) remained to be seen. I admit to low expectations: the idea of a laddish celebration of pub culture, with a song-list that wouldn’t be out of place at a boozy karaoke night, didn’t immediately appeal.
And when the all-male ensemble started with Welcome to the Jungle, it didn’t look promising. They had the energy and enthusiasm of Axl Rose in his prime, but if you’re going to cover the Gunners, you need a voice from hell.