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Frankghanistan

A show described as “storytelling through performance art, spoken word, documentary, cabaret and neo-burlesque vignettes” is a little difficult to imagine, but that’s what Nel Da Silva is bringing to this year’s Fringe.

By Kylie Stevenson

 

Frankghanistan is a tribute to her experience growing up in Frankston, a low socio-economic suburb about an hour out of Melbourne.

While that might seem worlds away from the Top End, Da Silva says the show will hit closer to home than you might think.

“There’s a Frankston for everyone,” she says.

Da Silva appears as both herself – a product of Pakistani-born, Chinese, Anglo-Indian, Portuguese parents growing up in a mostly white and fairly racist place, and as her alter-ego Noel – a mulleted, high-vis-wearing fan of Cold Chisel, sausages and his hometown. 

She hits the streets of Frankston as Noel and interviews the locals – and the results have had audiences laughing, crying and laughing again.

However, it wasn’t until she premiered Frankghanistan at the Melbourne Fringe Festival in 2017 that she realised it was funny, which saw her take it to the Melbourne Comedy Festival earlier this year.

She’s also performed it in NSW, and each time she’s had audience members from all over the country – and the world – approaching her, saying they recognise bits of Frankston in their own suburbs.

Although part-comedy, Frankghanistan doesn’t shy away from heavy topics, with misogyny, racism, sexual identity and violence against women all tackled head on. 

Da Silva, who in the show’s promotional material poses naked draped in a sausage noose, admits there is “uncomfortability” in the show. 

“I stand naked in front of the audience, literally,” she says.

But ultimately, it’s a self-love story in which Da Silva takes a critical and humorous look at the bogan in her – Noel. 

“It took me 40 years to even admit I was from Frankston,” she says. 

“If people asked where I was from, I’d just say the Mornington Peninsula or Bayside area. But really, it’s a gift that I’ve been raised in that environment.”

WED 11 – SAT 14 JUL | 8PM | LOLA’S PERGOLA,  CULLEN BAY | $30 | $25 CONC | darwinfringe.org.au 

See the event listing.

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