Heard it on the Wireless

Cremorne Theatre, QPAC (Kransky Sisters)


Cremorne Theatre, QPAC

Professional production

They didn’t bring the little red Morris on stage with them this time. Maybe that had something to do with Mourne’s money-saving schemes, in particular the one where when she tried to drive out of a car park without paying and the boom gate fell on the bonnet. Or maybe not. Never apologise, never explain.

Neither did the two older sisters, Mourne (Annie Lee) and Eve (Christine Johnson), bring their tuba-playing half-sister Arva with them, for she has absconded from her humpy on the family property at Esk and gone off with the Hornbill Military Band – and that’s all the explanation you’re going to get.

Instead, they’ve allowed their other half-sister Dawn (Carolyn Johns) to leave the spider-infested laundry at Esk, and have brought her along with them to play the tuba. Dawn doesn’t speak very much, and from the look of her (I think Mourne and Eve have yet to give her a few tips on eye make-up) she’s not likely to run off with any brass player, male or female. But she manages to get her revenge for the slights and minor humiliations they heap on her when she sets the pace with her defiantly unpolished tuba.

But the girls did bring their musical effects with them, I was glad to see – the guitar, the aforesaid tuba, the reed keyboard from the 1960s, the tambourines, the musical saw, the biscuit tin and, of course, the indispensable lavatory brush. And with those instruments of the angels they made music, with numbers like The Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams”, songs their mother taught them (before she ran off with Dawn and Arva’s father, that is) or that they heard on the wireless (no television in the Kransky household), AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” (tell me about it!), and a rendition of “Bright Eyes” that bring tears of hysterical laughter to your eyes as you learn that it was inspired by the death of Eve’s pet goldfish Goldie, devoured by a groper that Mourne put in the fish tank to save it from the piranha fish at the pet shop. Or something like that.

The other biographical fact you need to know to understand the three weird sisters is that Mourne and Eve’s biological father was a travelling salesman for the Abestos Cookware Company, and that after his brother ran off with his wife (the girls’ mother) and fathered Arva and later Dawn on her, the brothers haven’t spoken.

Annie Lee as Mourne, the eldest and most severe of the sisters, has been described as a cross between Joyce Grenfell and Miss Jean Brodie, but she’s more sinister than either of those redoubtable ladies, for under her bland narratives are dark tales of destructive spite. How did the neighbour’s guinea pig happen to be on the lawn when Mourne was mowing it? Never apologise, never explain, as I think I may have said before.

Although Eve (Christine Johnston) wears the same severe pleated black skirt, lace-up shoes and polka-dotted blouse as her sisters, she is the epitome of unfulfilled passion, positively quivering whenever her eye falls on the current male victim from the audience. (On the night I was there, Jason held his own, so to speak, against both Mourne’s severe reprimands and Eve’s incipient lust, and when he kissed Eve on the lips as he left the stage, the whole theatre pulsated with emotion of every conceivable kind.)

The three virgins from Esk (Arva has excluded herself from the definition by now, I suspect) have been bringing their homespun philosophy and travellers’ tales to audiences all round Australia in the last few years, and we have taken them to our hearts. And now they have won international fans as well, Edinburgh’s The Scotsman newspaper calling them “ a truly great comedy creation” after their success at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

If you missed them this time, check out their video clip on their website www.thekranskysisters.com. And when next they come to town, make sure you catch up with them for, if I may use a word that would never pass the Kransky Sisters’ lips, the whole audience were cacking themselves. And you may even finding yourself handing over good money for one of their tea towels.

Played 12-14 April 2007 at 7.30pm Thursday, 7.30pm and 9.30pm Friday, 2pm and 7.30pm Saturday

Duration : One hour, no interval

— Alison Cotes
(Performance seen: Wed 11th April 2007)