I recently had the pleasure of attending a performance of ‘Double Homicide at the Manchester Manchester & Haberdashery Factory Outlet’ at FAB NOBS theatre in Bayswater. This was my second time visiting this charming venue, and I must say I’m always impressed by its intimate atmosphere and rich history. It feels like a hidden gem tucked away in the suburbs of Melbourne.
The show, described as a musical comedy appropriate for ages 15 and up, is an original creation by Owen James and Ryland Sack, meticulously refined over the past four years. Despite its relative newness, the production exuded a sense of familiarity, as if the actors had been performing the script for years.
Despite FAB NOBS’s smaller stage, the production team did an incredible job transforming it into the bustling counter and floor of a Manchester and haberdashery store. Jeremy Swan’s meticulous attention to detail made the audience feel as if they were browsing the store themselves, searching for that perfect button or piece of fabric.
At the heart of the story is Meredith Woods, the shop’s owner, portrayed with captivating depth by Natasha Bassett, who looked like she was loving the range this role allowed her to play. Meredith seems like a gentle middle-aged, single mother, but there is more to her than what we first suspect.
Entering into the world of Manchester and haberdashery is Lawrence Kelly, Private Investigator, who arrives to uncover the truth and may also be seeking revenge…. Lawrence acts as the narrator for us, explaining the first forty-ish years in the life of Meredith Woods for us as the opening song. Played By Stephanie Powell who perfectly embodies the noir detective archetype. Lawrence’s mission is to uncover the truth behind a series of mysterious events, while also possibly seeking revenge for a past wrong.
Meredith’s trusty assistants, Felicity, Anne, and Shanice, bring a vibrant energy to the stage. Each with their unique personalities, they form a complementary team, providing comic relief and support to Meredith. Their songs, dances, and witty one-liners make them a perfect foil to Meredith, reminiscent of the salon ladies from ‘In the Heights’ or the Greek Chorus from ‘Little Shop of Horrors’.
The supporting cast also delivers memorable performances. Lauren Ridler shines as Eliza Wood, Meredith’s rebellious daughter. Mackinnley Bowden brings comedic charm to the role of Hunter Tate, Manchester’s illegal pharmacist. David Torr steals every scene he’s in with his flamboyant portrayal of Koi Pond. Daniel Cooper channels Lurch from the Addams Family, as the loveable but mostly silent Nate, and Finley Oldmeadow captures the comedic essence of John Cleese as the eccentric banker Ken Ashton.
Musically, the show delivers several memorable highlights, including ‘One Little Trip,’ ‘Time for Some Change,’ ‘Tango D’Interegation,’ and the finale, ‘Burning Desire,’ which reminded me of ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ from Monty Python’s Life of Brian.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Double Homicide at the Manchester Manchester & Haberdashery Factory Outlet.’ The show’s clever plot, catchy songs, and talented cast made for an entertaining and engaging experience. I look forward to the release of the Spotify cast recording next year and hope to see this production continue to shine on stages across Australia.