Launched last summer in response to pandemic restrictions and uncertainties, the Malthouse Outdoor Stage returns with more live music, stand-up comedy and a smattering of light theatrics including this new musical-meets-cabaret. The outdoor stage and cabaret-style seating in the pleasant courtyard surrounded by the Malthouse, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art and Chunky Move’s building instantly puts audiences in a good mood (even with the chilly conditions of this show’s opening night). We sit down ready to smile, laugh, clap and maybe even cheer.

Malthouse Theatre

Unfortunately SS Metaphor quickly burns up that good will, and even at just 70 minutes drags on. It’s a clever concept, and there’s ample talent, but they’re hard pressed to make much of a script that’s big on farce but light on laughs.

Written by Ash Flanders during Melbourne’s lockdowns, it feels like the creation of a restless theatre mind confined to a little room, throwing everything at the script, from action-movie cliches to socio-political...