Review: Alice Fraser: Ethos at Underbelly Bristo Square

Alice Fraser knows her show is a poorly structured hot mess, she references it constantly, but she really doesn’t care.

An ex-commercial lawyer, Fraser does comedy for the love of it, but her onstage performance doesn’t quite live up to her writing.

The premise of this show, an AI robot trying to learn about humanity through watching a comedy show, is gimmicky but clever, given Frasers chosen subject matter: what it is to be human. The back and forth between Fraser and her computerised straight man is genuinely funny, the AIs logical cynicism well complementing her emotive performance and winding, un-structured narrative. Sadly, however, the robot, named Ethos, is poorly utilised, his main function seemingly being to try and keep Fraser on topic.

Fraser definitely has funny bones and has a wonderfully incisive yet whimsical take on the world. Her intelligence shines through her writing and I heard some of my favourite lines of the season at this show. However, this hour is let down by her lack of focus. Shes got a lot of charisma, but sadly this often isnt enough on stage, especially when attempting a high concept, two-voice piece like this. That being said, the woman next to me was about to have an apoplexy she was laughing so hard, and the audience was firmly with Fraser, so my issues with her structure, or lack thereof, may be down to personal preference.

If you like just-shy-of-extremely-offensive humour and introspective feminist analysis, you will love Alice Frasers writing, but if you are looking for polished performance, this show doesn’t quite hit the mark.

Alice Fraser: Ethos, Underbelly Bristo Square, 5-27 Aug (not 13), 7.55pm

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