In the searing summer of 1518, a mysterious plague had the people of Strasbourg dancing themselves to death and no one knows why.
Enter Brotime Broductions, a team comprising James McLean and Matthew Hadgraft, who have taken this strange tale to the stage to bring us The Dancing Plague.
The original farce based on a true story is playing at Prompt Creative Centre during Adelaide Fringe and tells the hysterical story of a corrupt priest, a crap musician, an incompetent politician, and an entrepreneurial sex worker attempting to profit from the suffering.
“The Dancing Plague is a comedy based on bizarre true events in the French town of Strasbourg in the summer of 1518 in which hundreds of people were afflicted by uncontrollable and lengthy outbursts of dancing,” James says. “Some people danced so vigorously and for so long that they died from exhaustion. As tragic as it may have been for those people, it sounded like a brilliant starting point for a farce.”
James, who is an Adelaidian, turned Melbournian is looking forward to bringing this two-hander back home for the festive season with his mate, Matthew.
“I have performed several solo shows at various Fringe festivals from Adelaide to Melbourne to Edinburgh,” James says. “Matthew is an experienced musician, MC, musical director, and cabaret performer who gigs regularly around Melbourne in a variety of shows and bands. We’ve been bros ever since I moved to Melbourne ten years ago and didn’t know anyone else. For the last decade we’ve been saying things like ‘we should do a show together!’ and then not doing a show together. So we’re thrilled to finally be doing a show together.”
And this show is one that can be enjoyed by almost everyone, especially those who love shows about really weird happenings from ancient times.
“It’s funny without being too sweary,” James says. “It deals with awful politicians, corrupt church officials, crap musicians, and dancing so hard you literally kill yourself. It’s entirely original – beyond a few bars of some recognisable songs – and it’s the kind of old-school sensible fun comedy show that you can take your mum to, and then talk to her about it afterwards without actively avoiding discussing that one scene with the thing that happened that made you feel all uncomfortable.
“Bring anyone who doesn’t need to have their head buried in their device all the time, because they’ll need to take in the words. And also it’s super rude to look at your phone at a live performance. It’s 100% suitable for anyone 15 and up, and maybe mature 12 year olds. you know those middle-aged kids with good vocabularies? The political humour may sail over their heads but they’ll have a good chortle at the less subtle jokes.”
James is excited to be bringing this show to a festival he loves and can’t wait to get it in front of Fringe audiences.
“Adelaide Fringe is a superb ‘anything goes’ festival that really allows performers to let their feathers unfurl. There is no one you can’t be and nothing you can’t say, and it’s a magnificently diverse, inclusive, and fun festival. We’re doing a show because it’s such a good environment to bring an original work to life in,” James says.
“The two of us created the whole show from the ground up. We do everything ourselves. Between us, we’ve written the script, produced original music, hand-drawn digital backdrops and animations, and are really happy with how it’s come together. We’re very proud of its originality.”
The Dancing Plague is playing at Prompt Creative Centre Thu 16 Mar – Sat 18 Mar at 9:15pm. Grab your tickets HERE.