This review was originally published in Lot’s Wife Edition 5: Identity
‘Opshop’ delivers a series of quirky and colourful characters whose relationship issues permeate a homicidal old ladies’ resentful hipster killing spree. As they attempt to sort out their personal lives amongst cheating and arguments about relationship fluidity, one by one their friends begin to disappear until ultimately both narrative strands combine in a vigorous final showdown.
With near-literally laugh-a-minute gags, the actors bring this entertaining written work to life in front of a simple set that consists of only a few book shelves stacked with items and a curtain sewn entirely out of clothes. Agnes and Vincent, the play’s two leads, carry the show forward with character exposition ridden with expletives. Vincent is an out-of-towner everyman with an awkward voice and confusion over the crazy happenings of the big city. Agnes, the opshop worker showing him the ropes, is played with a harsh and quick-paced, pessimistic wit that delicately ensures there isn’t an f-bomb dropped that doesn’t hit its mark perfectly. The relationship formed between the two seems genuine as we see them grow from sarcastic flirtations to full-fledged couple.
But where is a play set in an opshop without hipsters? With their presence being the driving force behind the play’s homicidal plot, the actors ironically ensure that their characters are completely bought to life. A pair of musicians making up the band, Karl and the Fallen Pigeon Orchestra embody hipsterdom at its finest (or worst, really) and their music, specifically written for the show, is a complete embellishment of this culture. The bar, The Lucky Badger, and its owner Maxine, are correct in their unbridled hatred of them. Then comes Nancy, the band’s ‘fairy floss haired groupie’. She is vivacious, airheaded and superficial with a precise lack of depth that defines her character. With extravagant tones, selfies and hashtagging at every corner, Nancy lampoons hipsters in all their forms from her bleached hair full of roses to her unique brand of self-love crossed with repressed insecurity.
And finally Kerrie, the murderous old lady played a stubbly man in drag who performs unwaveringly in high heels and a dress. With a terrifyingly geriatric tone, character-breaking moments and faultless comic timing, her insatiable hatred of the youths is matched only by her lust for clothes to fill her op shop. Her constant attempts to seduce Vincent played against her vitriolic hatred of all other youths well provides for comedic moments.
The interactions between these characters gradually build in absurdity from the initial op shop work and bar visits to two parties simultaneously attempting to hide a body in the same place. On the course to the final showdown, we see the characters evolve from possessing some stereotypical traits into all out caricatures of hipsterdom, cynicism and the vengeful elderly. A talented cast reward audience members with rich background acting adding to the well-written work of the writer/director and the final ten minutes in particular, where the plot all comes together, are a chaotic formulation of fast-paced comedy delivered by energetic, top-of-their-game performers.