Hands down—the funniest thing you will see at this year’s Fringe.
Staged in Tuxedo Cat’s Mayall Room (upstairs in a renovated office building—there has been charm bestowed here upon an otherwise utilitarian space), The Sound of Nazis mixes the musical with history to great effect. No stone is left unturned, and every aspect of the movie classic is mined for its comedic worth, all to ask the question—why does Austria have a navy?
With strong performances, strong songs, and fantastic jokes, the world of 1930s Austria just…appears. Familiarity with The Sound of Music is desired, but not necessary to enjoy the absolutely rollicking good fun of this show. The jokes are so thick and fast, it is impossible to laugh and appreciate them all—and this is a good thing.
The music and performances are thoroughly enjoyable. Florence Bourke as a South African Mother Superior and Leisl von Trapp is excellent—her accent leads to one incredibly funny moment. The highlight of this show, though, is Hayman Kent, who takes on the role of Maria with an absolute awareness of what funny is. From her entrance, screaming in terror about the hills (who are alive, quite literally), she makes an indelible mark on the show. Her facial expressions are on point, her mannerisms even more so, and her delivery of each killer line and routine is pitch perfect. Seemingly channelling the spirit of Audrey Hepburn (a really clever move), she moves with grace and a little bit of clumsiness.
The controversy surrounding the political incorrectness of this show is somewhat justified. The Hitler parody—unsubtly named “Mr H” and played by Kel Balnaves as if possessed by the still-alive ghost of John Cleese—garners a semi-hostile reaction from the audience. The laughs are few when the attempted genocide of a racial minority is put to song and dance. It would be fine if the Nazis were the only ones getting whacked with the parody cudgel, but there are a couple of uncomfortable Jew and Italian stereotypes present as well. It’s all for laughs, yes, and the jokes are strong, but it is still uncomfortable to watch.
The Sound of Nazis is unbearably funny—a full hour of comedy gold.