A Very Kransky Christmas.
Created and performed by Annie Lee, Christine Johnston and Carolyn Johns. Queensland Performin Arts centre. The Playhouse. Canberra Theatre centre. December 13. 2017.
Reviewed by Peter Wilkins
They’re kooky, clever and just a little bit crazy. They are The Kransky Sisters, Mourne (Annie Lee), Eve (Christine Johnston) and half-sister Dawn (Carolyn Johns). For one night only this oddball, screwball and on the ball trio brought their zany brand of droll comedy and magical music arrangement to the Canberra Theatre’s Playhouse for a night of Yuletide fun and laughter. A Very Kransky Christmas dishes up an unique serve of comedy and Christmas songs. From the opening video of their travels through the country past roadkill, general stores serving kangaroo and the Big Merino, and the Big Yabby, the audience was in gales of laughter.
And then they shuffle on to the stage, relics of Gothic fairy tales from the forests of Eastern Europe. Mourne acts as storyteller, relating the saga of family life in the remote town of Esk in South East Queensland. A running dialogue between Mourne and Eve reveals the sorry dysfunction of their family life, interspersing the narrative with songs from Abba to The Carpenters, Simon and Garfunkel and Johnny Cash, all skilfully segued from the stories of recipes, eggs with hair warmers and departed pets. Droll monotone turns to superb song and when they sing angels listen. Half sibling victim, Dawn, obscured from my view by a large person in L row before me and from the audience by the large tuba she plays remains mute throughout the storytelling, but provides her deep harmony during the songs. Mourne accompanies on keyboard and Eve shines with keyboard and the musical saw played hauntingly with a long bow.
Gradually popular songs give way to traditional Christmas carols and the sisters introduce their treasure trove of bones of dear departed dead animals, a tray with a faded picture of a young queen and another with an unknown handsome soldier, for whom they are all desperately searching. Slowly the stories come to an end although the dismissive treatment of poor, disregarded Dawn continues as the sisters search for an unsuspecting audience member to join in their Christmas celebration. At the Canberra performance, it is tax officer, Iain and retiree, Tony who are led on to the stage to be dressed a la Kransky and handed a tambourine to accompany themselves on the Twelve Days of Christmas. Entering into the spirit of the celebration, Iain and Tony prove irresistible to the suppressed Mourne and Eve, but manage to escape to the safety of their seats.
For so long the hidden lily of the trio, Dawn blossoms with a mock old school jazz funk dance to the delight of the applauding audience, who didn’t want the loopy sisters to leave. They are converts to Mourne’s parting words “May all us odd socks come together in the washing machine of life.” A Very Kransky Christmas is more than a fun Festive Season frolic in story and song. Their unique brand of comedy contains a message of tolerance and acceptance and a salute to all that is odd, different and strange. Laughter and applause pay homage to the joy and celebration of the Christmas spirit in a show that works its magic to the very end. This is a one night stand that left the audience wanting more.