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Reviews/Fringe World Festival/Theatre

Not much between the lines

28 January 2019

Fringe World review, Michael de Lara, Living Between the Lines ·
Voila Voila Bar, January 24 ·
Review by Xan Ashbury ·

Anyone who has seen the American rom-com The Wedding Singer will remember Adam Sandler playing Robbie Hart, whose broken heart “hinders his performance” (putting it mildly), making the wedding reception audience extremely uncomfortable.

I’m not sure if Michael de Lara would mind that he reminded of Robbie Hart. But honestly, I now know how those wedding guests must have felt – awkward and let down. While de Lara is clearly a competent musician, Living Between the Lines bears no resemblance to its description in the promotional blurb:

When you grow up outside the majority, outside the minority, relating to everyone, belonging to no one, searching for a home in your land but not your own… A first generation immigrant-American growing up in the 80s & 90s in between the North and the South wonders, ‘What happens to you when every tribe isn’t your tribe?’

He briefly mentions he’d been in a punk band but not quite fitted in because he is a happy person… but that’s it. For someone who has been performing professionally for years (mostly recently on cruise ships), he seemed uncomfortable on stage and banter with the audience was stilted. He won my sympathy for a while when he explained he had a blood clot but had been given the OK to perform. “Oh look, I’ve still got my hospital bracelet on,” he mentioned part way through the show.

Structured around songs and a narrative thread, the show is premised on de Lara waiting for a special guest to arrive. I’ll refrain from revealing how that pans out but let’s just say that even as a certified Samuel Beckett fan, it left me cold. Imagine Vladimir and Estragon playing easy-listening, cruise-ship-friendly music for an hour and you’re getting the picture.

Living Between the Lines plays various venues until February 13.

Pictured top: Michael de Lara performing “Living Between the Lines”.

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Author —
Xan Ashbury

Xan Ashbury is a teacher who spent a decade writing for newspapers and magazines in Australia and the UK. She won the Shorelines Writing for Performance Prize in 2014-17. Her favourite piece of playground equipment is the flying fox.

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    You might want to brace yourself for Patrick Marlborough’s radical gloves-off stand-up in On Fringe, but it’s well worth the effort, advises Xan Ashbury.

  • Extraordinary tales about ordinary people

    Created by local performance company Whiskey & Boots, The Bystander Project is a celebration of stories, art and shared humanity, says Xan Ashbury.

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