Maroussia Vladi – The Connoisseur: A Prologue
Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Did you know that a clown’s red nose represents their heart? In practice, a clown wears this heart on the middle of their face. An open book of life and death.
With bravado, storytelling, music, and a little dancing, Maroussia Vladi sets out to expose her own heart through a quickfire personal history of loves found, and loves lost. The Connoisseur: A Prologue is a good old-fashioned storytelling cabaret. Maroussia takes centre stage, dressed in a fabulous white gown, and a dazzling fascinator. Her high energy, animated storytelling is accompanied by the twinkling, semi-improvised piano of her side-kick, Jane. Together, they are a sisterly cohort, custom built for airing some old love stories, and unpacking their lessons.
We are regaled with the tale of Maroussia’s first love, Richard, a handsome Australian boy who stole her heart. But, as her formative love story quickly draws to a close, the real journey begins. A string of “Richards” slide in and out of her life, as she travels the world in search of love, fortune, and a prestigious position at Clown College in Paris.
Maroussia and co are all kinds of fun. The stories are quickfire, packed with comical tidbits, and sprinkled with perfectly restrained musical numbers. The playful chemistry between Maroussia and Jane on-stage is wonderfully endearing, especially when they drift a little off-script. Cameo voice-overs from a diverse range of minor characters keep the spectacle fresh and surprising.
It took me a little while to warm up to Maroussia. The storytelling is a little too didactic and theatrical for my blood. Her string of Richards were a little one-dimensional, and her love and loss for each of them felt easily dismissed. Some strong personal themes naturally emerge around heartbreak, validation, self-love, control, and even abuse. But just as I think Maroussia is going to help us dive into those moments, she holds back, talks around the edges of the drama, or breaks the tension with a light-hearted musical number. In the age of performative vulnerability, I’m starting to grow accustomed to seeing bolder, unfiltered, personal confessions.
It was in the unscripted moments of banter with Jane on-stage that I genuinely felt invited into the authentic experience of being Maroussia. As the story progressed, her delivery felt increasingly relaxed, and I eventually warmed to her journey. She may not be quite ready to wear a red nose on her face, but it was a lot of fun to watch her share as much as she did.