FRINGEWORLD: Spooky Men of the West – Secrets of Mansinging (4.5 stars)

Review by Brandon Taylor

Somewhere in Perth’s Pleasure Gardens, a shadowy and rustic wood-scented cavern rings with the voice of man.  The voices of men, rather – men clad in black, men who build enormous structures, men who dream of mastadons, and men who are revealing in earnest tones the well-guarded secrets of mansinging.  Yes, Teatro 1 is being transformed into a temple of burly enlightenment by WA-based men’s a capella choir group the Spooky Men of the West.

A favourite in Adelaide’s Fringe 2014 and 2015 festivals, The Spooky Men are a well-oiled (don’t take that the wrong way) machine of monastic harmony and ironic humour. They don’t take themselves too seriously, but directed by Micheál McCarthy, Senior Lecturer in Aural Training, Theory and Choral Training at WAAPA (West Australian Academy of Performing Arts), they enjoy a satisfyingly overbuilt foundation of expertise.

The team, around 20 men of widely varying age, harmonise about the comedies inherent in being a man. With no mountain to climb, no mammoth to spear, and no kingdom to conquer, man often turns his attention to the tool shed, the construction site and occasionally the social club. Along with the mostly original music comes hilarious choreography, tongue-in-cheek narration and of course, all-black costumes, hats and secret handshakes.

Throughout the show, Original songs from the zany hand of Spookmeister Stephen Taberner, including crowd favourites like “Don’t Stand Between a Man and his Tool” ring out in rich layers, creating a cathedral of stoic brotherhood while poking fun at the very idea of such a thing in the first place. The clever contradiction, though cheeky, is appropriate for all ages and enjoyable by all types.

When: 16 – 21 February 2016 (5:15pm)

Where: Teatro 1, Pleasure Garden, Northbridge PERTH

Tickets: From $5!

Info: Duration 45 minutes, Suitable all ages