Theatre review: The Librar(IAN), The Butterfly Club

‘The Librar(IAN)’ is a semi-autobiographical hour of comedic theatre celebrating the important role libraries and librarians play in their local communities.
Image: The Butterfly Club. The Librar(IAN) poster with a digitally edited image showing a portrait of a person smiling set against a bookcase.

A humorous exploration of the world of the public library, Lochie Laffin Vines’ first solo show is a semi-autobiographical hour of stand-up comedy in which Vines takes on the role of Ian the librarian. Ian is an actor with a dream of one day getting their dream job of hosting Play School. Until that day comes, Ian works in the library and interacts with the community that forms around it.

The jokes about library life are rapid fire with some clever references to the Dewey Decimal System, literary classics and not-so-classic books. There are also funny anecdotes about the various characters who spend time at the library. Not all jokes work, but most of them do.

Vines is a natural storyteller, who develops a strong rapport with the audience, and Ian is a likeable character. His interactions with the library’s patrons are a highlight, from the elderly looking for a friendly chat and a place to spend their time to the youngsters exploring the world of books for the first time. The show successfully conveys an appreciation for the good that libraries do for the community, with the sense of belonging that libraries create a strong takeaway.

Ian lives his Play School dream each day during children’s story time and the audience gets to participate in a session with interactive singing and a story reading. Audience members greatly enjoyed this part of the show, joining in with the songs and the nostalgic, feel-good factor of when they were children themselves. This section is a little bit long, but the audience interaction is certainly enjoyable.

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The show isn’t as strong in segments featuring other members of the library team. These don’t work as well from a comedic point of view; it’s a missed opportunity to develop these characters. Conversely, the storyline involving the patron Bob is one of the highlights, and a similar journey with one of the other library workers would have enhanced the show.

The Librar(IAN) is technically well-delivered, with nice lighting and sound design, while the direction cleverly takes advantage of Vines’ capabilities as a performer. This one-man show is entertaining, with a wonderful takeaway message about the value of libraries for the community. It’s also a nice audition for the role of a Play School host. A recommended night of laughs and library nostalgia.

The Librar(IAN)
Writer/Performer: Lochie Laffin Vines
Director: Rob Lloyd
Sound/Lighting: Sandro Falce

The Librar(IAN) played at The Butterfly Club, Melbourne until 11 May 2024.

Kim Hitchcock is a freelance writer based in Melbourne who has an interest in all art forms and enjoys exploring them locally and abroad. He has completed a Master of Art Curatorship at the University of Melbourne and can be reached at