Matt Byrne Media
Maxim’s Wine Bar
Until 16 Mar 2019

Review by Anthony Vawser

Presented at the 2019 Adelaide Fringe Festival

For anyone who, like this reviewer, would only decide to watch most ‘reality television’ if they were being paid a great deal of money to do so, “Married at First Fight” should work well as a successfully satirical alternative to the real thing.

Writer/director/producer/star Matt Byrne’s format should be familiar to those who’ve sampled his Fringe work in past years at Maxim’s. ‘Dad jokes’, caricatures, classic pop songs with rewritten lyrics, a bit of direct audience involvement – plus enough genuine insight and poignancy, about relationships and those who pursue them, to make for a satisfyingly rounded experience.

Byrne has cast his three fellow performers well. Rose Vallen’s unfailing warmth and expert comic timing are a strong asset throughout, while real-life couple Amber Platten and Brad Butvila both shine brightly, demonstrating deftness with various personas and the accents that go along with them. All four actors contribute the kind of confidence, energy, and enthusiasm that takes this show quite a long way.

As with past Byrne shows of this type, one feels that shorter and sharper might have been better; a pair of sketches that work nicely in the first act are reprised in the second to diminishing returns, and there is a noticeable dip in overall quality after the interval.

Over the course of two hours, some of the material manages to be merely mysterious if not outright disagreeable – but at its best, “Married at First Fight” is a show that displays a sharp perception about human nature, and gives us permission to laugh along with the relatable struggles of recognisable people.

Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)