>MARCELLO'S NEW CLOTHES by Toy Factory Theatre Ensemble

>reviewed by eugene tan

>date: 24 jul 2000
>time: 8pm
>venue: 17a smith street
>rating: **

>tired already? go home then
>review junkie? whitney, give them this click to sniff

>look, we know that you need to know that we, as responsible reviewers, have some quantifiable categories to rate productions, and are not just relying on some undefinable instinct or gut feeling. So to put your mind at ease, we will give you a logical rating system based on the practitioner's vision / and the reviewer's response of a particular production. Here it is then: ***** : Transcendent / Rapturous. ****: Crystal / Appreciative. ***: Transmitted / Thoughtful. **:Vague / Unsatisfied. * : Uncommunicated / Mystified. Yet in the end, you will feel that this is (1) a cheap attempt to justify the subjective arbitrariness of our rating system (2) buttressed by an interest in the logical (and inevitable) categorisation of such productions, which is (3) undermined by the cheapness of the attempt, and (4) confused by the creeping feeling you are getting that we are dead serious in our feeling that this rating system is an accurate description of the content, intent and quality of the production. Oh please -- does it even matter now? Look, at least we tried.


There is a lot more to stand-up comedy than funny things said while standing up. There is a lot more to a drag queen then a man wearing make-up. And most certainly, there is a lot more to being outrageous than a combination of the two aforementioned activities.

Teetering on black platform boots and wearing a red kimono, Marcello opened the show with plenty of promise, probably the evening most wicked send-up, but it was not about fashion. The trouble with a comedian opening with the bitchiest joke of the evening is that the rest of the night will simply pale in comparison, and it did. Essentially, MARCELLO'S NEW CLOTHES, is a one-person (man?) show about a campy, drag fashion designer, Marcello, played by Anthony Tan and it tells his version of his view of fashion and fashionable people.

Well and good, but for Toy Factory to have labeled the show as stand-up comedy was a serious case of false advertising. Perhaps it was because of the audience size that night (it was dismal) but it became very clear that Marcello was not interacting with an audience but rather playing someone who was. It is just a bit sad when a performer is being animated to empty chairs, hoping for a response, not getting one, but reacting to one anyway.

>>'A moderately funny night out, but not much more than that'

Evidently this was a monologue that merely borrowed from the stand-up genre. To further complicate the matter, the few of us in the audience did not seem to find many of the jokes to be "roll-in-the-aisle" funny. Nor were we subjected to Marcello's bitchiness. We were not exactly required or invited to interact with Marcello very much in the hour-long show either. So for a show that was supposed to be black, bitchy, funny, interactive, whatever, it just came off as being a bit flat. This was not helped at all by a performer who was constantly flubbing his lines. Enough with the performance, is Marcello a bitch? Yes, in so far as mocking Fann Wong, David Gan, Cat Ong et al. No, in that nothing that he had to say was particularly new.

But if Marcello is a fashionista, then we should not discuss the deep stuff, even though he claims to not be shallow. Let's talk about sets and music and not be too deep about it either. The set, a single white runway with pictures of Marcello as two English queens on either side of the stage was clever. "Wah! We are watching a fashion show!" But unfortunately, as a result of a slightly flimsy stage and a substantially more than flimsy performer, the set seemed a bit precarious, every foot step shook the platform, bringing to mind "Godzilla". And while an all white set is kind of chic, it has the unfortunate effect of distancing performer from audience. The music was a campy mix of dancey music and diva torch songs. Fun, effective and with a simple but effective lighting plan, it did its job.

What about the fashion? There wasn't very much on offer, a red kimono, a silver jacket, a blue jacket, Ah-Lian platform sneakers among others. It was not a high point in theater costuming, which was a shame really, since we were to meet a fashion guru with "a campy dress sense". So said publicity materials.

In the end, MARCELLO'S NEW CLOTHES was a moderately funny night out, but not much more than that.