COMMA SUTRA @ Downstairs at the Maj gets 8/10

Comma Sutra
 @ His Majesty’s Theatre: Downstairs at the Maj
Tuesday, February 4, 2020


Grammar nerds, unite! If you’re particularly partial to erasers, red pens, and removing unnecessary commas from public signage, this is the show for you. Created and performed by the illustrious and adorable Louisa Fitzhardinge, Comma Sutra is a cabaret comma-dy that delights at every turn, overflowing with impressive bilingual skills, quick-quips, melodious vocals, and visually compelling characteristics. This spectacular composition of song and dance is a call to you, the book-lovers, linguists, and punctuation purists, and will allow you to discover a kindred-spirit in your new grammar hero, Louisa.

With its eager occupants sardined into the crowded cabaret venue Downstairs at the Maj, the set began with the introduction of its star, Louisa, clothed pin-up style in red, understatedly complemented with the addition of a sweet-faced comma adorning her chest (hand-crafted by Melbourne’s Yippy Whippy). She was followed closely by pianist, Greg Lavell (who’s been affectionally renamed Grerg). Grerg’s presence and exemplary musical talent were the perfect accompaniment to the stage. The pair’s repartee meandered between the rehearsed and spontaneous, but it was consistently charming, playful, and witty.

The audience were privy to fantastical grammar-inspired rewrites of classic numbers, such as Broadway’s Anything Goes, Gotye’s Somebody That I Used to Know, and Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World – just a few amongst a vast list of rewritten and original songs which wowed the crowd. The set’s musical theatrics included the ever-prominent theme of books, punctuation, puns, nerdiness, loneliness, childhood bullying, and offered the occasional (and perfectly executed) sexual innuendo which induced whole-audience laughter.

Louisa lamented that she finds the title ‘grammar Nazi’ to be quite an interesting insult. What one would think is a mere adoration for correct grammar, is compared to by others as having properties similar to that of a malevolent nationalist. If only she could find someone, anyone (hello, are you out there, translucent-skinned nerd with the thick-rimmed glasses?), who shares her passion for grammar, Oxford commas, and has an in-formidable propensity to correct others.

The marvellously gifted Louisa is bi. . .lingual. Fluent in four languages (English, German, French, and Auslan), she utilises this throughout the evening, and highlights the idiosyncrasies of translation via PowerPoint, music, and song. This skill provided Louisa the means to a truly impressive finish, not an audience member could fault her seamless and masterful finale.

There were minor facets of the set which felt, well, borrowed. If you have the internet and are a bit of a word-nerd, you’d have seen a few of the comma and quotation mark segments before. However, this does not detract from the performance which is sublime in its originality; it is truly a one-of-a-kind masterpiece of humorous grammar-heaven.

Louisa has cleverly constructed a production which is endearing in the complexity of its wholesome and risqué amalgamation. If you’ve ever nonchalantly erased an unnecessary apostrophe from a ‘tomatoe’s’ sign, you won’t want to miss out on Comma Sutra this Fringe!


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