Words Grace Hood-Edwards
At Q’s Cellar, Alice Cassidy, Rachel Roberts and Becky Umbers, the trio behind Minimum Rage, their debut show, begin offstage muttering as disgruntled employees behind the Cellar’s bright red curtain. They enter buoyantly, with sickeningly sweet customer service smiles and voices automatically identifiable to every millennial in the audience. You know, the ones we love and are so happy to put on for you. The trio mention this, ‘lying’ through their teeth about how happy they are to be here and to serve us tonight.
The idea of exploring comedy through the relatable, rage-inducing experience of working a minimum wage, customer service job is a good framework for a show. For anyone not familiar with the customer service experience in the audience, the barely sincere actions and reactions of these minimum wage employees must have been eye opening. For most they mainly elicited sympathetic nods of heads and laughter. Very soon after appearing on-stage, Alice Cassidy and Becky Umbers wheedle their way back off, claiming their ‘break’ – leaving Rachel Roberts alone as the first ‘act’ to warm up the crowd.
Positioned next to a keyboard, Roberts launches into a high energy and highly entertaining set that skips from a parody of Adele’s ‘Hello’ to a hatred of Kevin’s to an uproarious rap about bees. Explaining her diverse background of experience, we learn Roberts had operatic training – something that becomes clear through the musical performances throughout the show, where her vocals simultaneously wow, and keep these segments from falling apart.
Such a segment like a group song about the customer service experience was used to segue into Alice Cassidy’s section. Although slipping up in the previous song and seeming a bit lost, Cassidy quickly paved over that stumble by acknowledging it in a humourous manner, which the crowd enjoyed. Humility goes a long way. Cassidy moved forward into a confident and enjoyable set, the highlight being her obsession with Trade Me. The smooth assurance of her set was only emphasised by the surprise that Cassidy had only just turned 18.
The highlight of the framework was the “mandatory” tea and coffee break where the comedians went around handing out much needed biscuits to the audience. After biscuit delivery duties it was Becky Umbers’ turn. The beginning of her set got what would apparently be the obvious out of the way, wringing the comedy from Umbers’ diminutive size and her self-described “Alvin and the Chipmunks” voice. Umbers’ set focused the most on sex and relationships, but easily found humour in moments such as a Brazilian gone bad and a potential phone sex gig.
Whilst the trio behind Minimum Rage moved over familiar topics for young comedians – lack of attendance, pets, relationships, dislike of babies, etc. – these three always found a unique and entertaining spin on everyday moments. All of the girls received good bouts of laughter, and they all had the confidence and charisma onstage that deserved it. A stand out of the evening was Roberts; whether it was through her leading the group on keyboard or her wildly funny song-riffs, she was a magnetic presence throughout the show. Altogether, they came off as three cool Kiwi gals. The framework interludes perhaps needed a little more polish, but they handled their errors with aplomb and comedy – as any good comedian should. Excited to see where they go next.