Riverside Theatre, December 16


If the burghers of the thriving metropolis of Esk, northwest of Ipswich, are bewildered to find their streets bereft of women with straight black hair and skirts, muted polka-dot blouses and sensible shoes, that would be because their celebrated neighbours, the Kransky Sisters, are on tour. Yes, they were lured all the way south to the singular charms of fabled Parramatta – where the streets were equally empty because of the heat.

Riverside Theatre, by contrast, was seething with their fans. One of them, a jovial man who described himself as being “in construction” – which sounded like he wasn’t quite finished – joined the spinsterial sisters on stage (at their invitation) to play some rollicking tambourine. If Peter ever finishes being constructed, he now has a jingly new career beckoning, where his good humour will stand him in good stead.

Dawn (Carolyn Johns), Mourne (Annie Lee) and Eve (Christine Johnston) threaten the audience with being sawn up if they don’t laugh. Photos supplied.

Mourne and Eve rather fancied Peter. Life in Esk, you see, is obstinately celibate. This may or may not be commonplace for all Eskimos (or whatever they’re called up there), but mere proximity to a male sent Mourne and Eve all a-shiver, and actually touching Peter’s Devo tee-shirt made Mourne suffer the faintest paroxysms of ecstasy.

An abiding glory of the Kransky Sisters’ humour is the hint of tragedy in their tacit longing to forsake the chastity they accept as their lot. This vague sadness finds echoes in the silent, visual humour that’s their greatest strength – more than the deadpan verbal comedy and the music, with their sweet, sweet harmonies. The songs, consisting of Christmas carols and madcap versions of the likes of It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ’n’ Roll), boasted virtuoso tuba from Dawn (Carolyn Johns), guitar and found percussion from Mourne (Annie Lee) and reedy keyboard, percussion and musical saw from Eve (Christine Johnstone).

Perhaps they are the love-children of an improbable union between Barry Humphries’ Sandy Stone and his Dame Edna. If so, there’s one thing they could learn from their mother: evolutionary change is the way to keep surprising rusted-on audiences.