Directed by Casey Gould, written by Connor Morel
Reviewed by Annika Loci
Melbourne Fringe Festival, October, 2023
Common Rooms, Trades Hall, Carlton
Making its debut in the Common Room of Trades Hall as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival, an intimate but energetic room eagerly awaited A Lovely Day to be Online, written by Victorian singer/songwriter/musician Connor Morel. Told from the perspective of Morel, A Lovely Day to be Online is inspired by his own online obsession as well as the impact increased screen time during the pandemic had on his real-life relationships and decision making.
The show deconstructs our use of the internet, and the humanity (or lack thereof) of social media. The entertaining and clever discussion style dialogue between songs breaks the fourth wall and asks the audience to reflect on their own experiences and question how real or true to ourselves we are online. Morel explores fake Instagrammers, keyboard warriors, addiction to YouTube videos (how many times can we watch a cat playing piano?) through to hackers, scammers, and catfishing ruining people’s lives.
As Morel tells his story, he moves purposefully around the stage switching between playing keys, guitar, and dialogue, even dealing expertly with a technical glitch. Supporting Morel is musical director William Conway on drums and Kat Ades on bass guitar. The chemistry and trust between Morel, Conway and Ades is evident on stage, especially standing out with nice blend of light and shade in vocals, with excellent music control from all three. Ades provides hilarious, well-timed interjections as Morel’s story unravels more into existential crisis.
Director Casey Gould has given Morel the chance to draw upon and show off his fabulous dramatic skills and background in musical theatre by drawing the audience slowly and expertly down the rabbit hole of internet addiction, having the audience totally invested in the outcome. Combined with Morel’s lyrics, Conway has provided a broadly enjoyable and creative score which helps guide audiences through the range of emotions being portrayed. A real highlight was the switch from full instrumentals to a mostly acoustic arrangement where Morel is at the peak of negative ramifications of his online decision making. By stripping back the instrumentals, the impact of this moment is cleverly intensified.
Unfortunately the performance was significantly impacted by the setup of the PA system, which when combined with the natural acoustics of an old building and small room such as Common Rooms at Trades Hall, Morel’s lyrical performances were often difficult to understand, and especially in loud rock style sections almost completely inaudible. However when Moral’s lyrics were clear, they were extremely clever and comedic, keeping audiences laughing and engaged.
Connor Morel’s A Lovely Day to be Online and his fabulous witty comedic style is following confidently in the footsteps of Australian Fringe alum like Tim Minchin and Tripod; through humor and catchy music, audiences question & reflect on current social norms, values, and our own place within the world.
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