This isn’t a show about death, oh no. It’s a show about near death experiences. Written by Tyler Jacob Jones and with music by Robert Woods, What Doesn’t Kill You [Blah Blah] Stronger is a cabaret of comedic songs inspired by (sometimes grotesque, sometimes unbelievable and always incredible) true stories of survival.
Educational, informative and definitely very funny
From the moment Tyler Jacob Jones and Erin Hutchinson bound onto stage you know you’re in safe, well-rehearsed hands. Both are excellent singers and their energy and talent shine through every number. Jones in particular revels in the script and has the audience in fits of giggles with every thrust of his hip. Hutchinson’s wide eyed astonishment is gleeful. The pair have enough chemistry to pull off the most preposterous of poses; Hutchison as a seductive cat during Army of Cats strikes me as one obvious example. It would also be rude not to mention Joshua Haines who provides first-rate musical accompaniment on keys, his poise and professionalism a delightful contrast to the silliness at the front of the stage.
My favourite song, Flushed With Fear, proved that fart jokes never stop being funny. Crude toilet humour sung in the musical style of an operetta, you’ll never look at a coloratura in the same way again.
What Doesn’t Kill You is almost two shows for the price of one, with a fully complete musical called Sylacauga, USA; The Ann Hodges Story taking centre stage midway through. The tale of the first documented person to have ever been hit by an extra-terrestrial object, this is a fast-paced miracle of a mini-musical. When Hutchinson (as Hodges) sang about how her Sylacauga life was enough for her, it was genuinely moving. Jones singing one song as three people all at once was a brilliant work of vocal gymnastics.
There are very few flat moments; perhaps I Want A Dog was the only song whose subject matter was perhaps a little too dark to unleash more than nervous giggles. Marco Lavoie, was that really the only way to survive?! The finale of Violet Jessop/Getting On Boats was also not as snappy as the rest of the show. Although they were both great songs, the show seemed to lose a bit of pace at this point instead of building to a crescendo.
Educational, informative and definitely very funny, it’s easy to see why this show with its unusual subjects has been award winning back home Down Under. Some time later I’m still humming Things That People Do To Survive, its calypso beat and catchy chorus proving to be a real earworm. Holland St Productions have brought a ray of sunshine with them from Australia, so catch it whilst you can. Just make sure you don’t catch anything else: survival is a dangerous business you know.