travel and life with lee mylne

Fifty shades of parody

For a minute or two, right at the beginning, I wondered if I had been conned into attending one giant hen’s party…complete with male stripper disrobing to the beat of Tainted Love.

The theatre was full of women, with just a sprinkling of brave men. And the opening scene of the play I’d come to review was looking very like being at the most embarrassing hen’s night I can remember attending, many years ago.  And I knew that this play had the potential to be either very funny or to have me cringing in my seat.

SPANK!  – a parody on the inexplicably-best-selling book Fifty Shades of Grey – has taken the US by storm and opened its Australian run at Brisbane’s Twelfth Night Theatre last week.

DSC_0429Yes, I have read the book. But not the trilogy. One was enough. I’m not a prude; I’m a literary snob. It wasn’t the sex or the domination, the whips, the handcuffs, the Red Room of Pain, or the unbelievable plot that I didn’t like.  In fact, I often felt like slapping that stupid Anastasia myself.  No, it was the bad writing that turned me off; the characters who were so shallow and lightly drawn that I didn’t care two hoots what happened to them.

So despite the fact that I’m sure the theatre was filled with fans of the book, in many ways SPANK! is written for readers like me. It’s a clever and unmerciful send-up, highlighting the book’s many absurdities.

In Brisbane, the three-hander features Stephen Mahy as the young billionaire Hugh Hanson, with Caitlin Berry as his sex slave Tasha, and the hilarious Rebecca de Unamuno as Janet, the housewife-novelist who dreams them up over a long weekend with a bottle (or two) of Chardy while her hubby and kids are away.

The offical SPANK! website is a bit coy about the origins of the play, except to say it is “not associated with, nor authorized by, author E.L. James or Vintage Press”.  But a quick Google reveals it was written by satirist Jim Millan, and has been a big hit in the US and Canada.

You may not have to have read the book in order to enjoy the show – but it will help. Those who haven’t will still enjoy the other pop culture references scattered throughout. Beware: if you’re in the front rows, you may be subjected to the dreaded audience participation (albeit briefly).

As for cringing…well, I didn’t. I just laughed a lot. And the obvious sign of a good night out was evident as we left. Everyone was grinning. I’m not going to give the ending away…in case you decide to see it yourself.

SPANK! The Fifty Shades Parody runs in Brisbane until April 28.

13 Responses to “Fifty shades of parody”

  1. candidkay

    When Twilight became a phenom in the States, I read first couple of books just to see what fuss was about–and I hear you! Writing is awful and it’s written for dreamy teenaged girls who want to be center of universe. They should make a Twilight parody for all the parents of those girls:)

    • Lee

      I haven’t read any of the Twilight books, and have no desire to. But I know a few women – well past their teens – who have loved them.

  2. Lee

    I’m not sure. I think they plan to hit Sydney and Melbourne next…you might get lucky!

  3. Tommy

    Sounds like it was a great show. The writer could have thrown in a murder plot, a bit of shop-lifting and some of Abba songs, and he would have had real winner..

    • Lee

      I forgot to mention there were songs in it – but not from ABBA! Just a few, here and there – all of which added to the humour.

  4. Anonymous

    Brilliant post Lee – as a fellow literary snob (and proud of it) I feel you on the drivel that has sold millions!

  5. seriouslybrianna

    Awesome play . . I too hated the book but for different reasons. I hate weak women and men you attempt to dominate them in business and in life in general. I dragged my husband to Spank with me. He laughed a bit but I was falling off my seat laughing. We as full grown adults have forgotten how to belly laugh. I remembered during this play.

    Thanks for the post!

    • Lee

      Glad you enjoyed reading it (more so than that terrible book!). Can’t fathom the enormous popularity of it. After all, if erotic fiction is what anyone is looking for, I’m sure there’s a lot better-written stuff out there!


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