The Drowsy Chaperone

The Drowsy Chaperone, MTC at the Arts Centre Playhouse, until Feb 27.

National living legend Geoffrey Rush stars in this wacky musical that is not too dissimilar to a night in at my house. Rush's character sits alone in his apartment, listening to a musical from the 20's on a record player, and the characters come to life in his living room as he imagines what the show must have been like. The musical we see unfold before us is absolute nonsense, with Rush annotating the proceedings, giving us an insight into the real lives of the actors behind the characters (sometimes more insane than the dizzy plot of the musical itself).

All of the cast (which includes Kenny's Shane Jacobsen, and stage legends Robyn Nevin and Richard Piper) turn in boisterous performances, except for the usually boisterous Rhonda Burchmore, who is surprisingly restrained as the title character, considering she is playing a perpetually drunk diva. Red-hot Rhonda, it seems, has come down a notch to fit in with everybody else overplaying their parts. The two stories, that of Geoffrey Rush's character, alone in his apartment, trying to shut out the encroaching world, and the shrill lunacy of the musical (where an actress is about to give up her career for marriage) dovetail beautifully. There are brief moments of pathos, but they never linger long enough to bring down the heady excitement of the manic musical that takes over the stage and Rush's character's apartment.

This is the perfect musical, energetic, delightful and never for a minute taking itself seriously (how can it when there is an insanely inspired monkey motif, gangsters disguised as pastry chefs, and a groom that roller-skates blindfolded). Most importantly, unlike many modern musicals, it never overstays its welcome, ending in under two hours without an interval! If you've never seen Geoffrey Rush on stage, or never seen a musical you enjoyed, I implore you to check out The Drowsy Chaperone. It is, in the purest sense of the word, fun.