[2015167] Wizard Sandwiches – Lettuce Play

[2015167] Wizard Sandwiches – Lettuce Play

Wizard Sandwiches @ Tuxedo Cat – Cusack Theatre

7:15pm, Sun 15 Mar 2015

This was it: my last show of the year. Though I knew full well that I still had the Fringe Awards to attend, some post-Fringe drinks to imbibe, some people to thank and bid farewell, and a plane to catch the next morning for another (incredible) show in Melbourne, this was the last show that required my full attention so that I could recount it in this blog at a later date.

Errr… yeah.

Let’s face it: after 169 other shows, my memory was a little… well, shot. So I remember the ‘Sandwiches bringing more sketch comedy to the table. I remember laughing my arse off at the very premise of the “Drill A Hole In The Bottom Of The Ship” Pirate. I remember Wizard Stu laughing his arse off during the Antiques Roadshow piss-take (where a VHS tape was the item in question). And I remember Lettuce Play wrapping up with a Twelve Angry Men parody: they produce Five Gassy Men, which was as juvenile as it sounds… but still funny.

And that typifies Lettuce Play, I think: sure, they conjured a lot of laughs, but most of them came from a pretty immature place (a pants-wetting skit? Really?). And, whilst both the audience and the performers themselves seem to be having a good time, I can’t help but think that this feels awfully close to an old-fashioned University revue… which surprised me somewhat, since my (admittedly drunken) recollection of The Last Lunch was of a more mature and refined production.

[2015166] Fully Furnished

[2015166] Fully Furnished

Them @ Gluttony – The Peacock

4:00pm, Sun 15 Mar 2015

I’d already committed to seeing the final performance of Nautilus later in the afternoon, so I had filled the gap after A Simple Space with the first show that had fit on The Shortlist… which just happened to be Fully Furnished, another acrobatic performance. Which seemed awfully unfair, in retrospect: there’s very few troupes that can hold a candle to Gravity & Other Myths, in my eyes.

Them (the company, not bad grammar) attempt to weave a bit of a narrative throughout this show, but it really comes across as an excuse to use some kitchen furniture and whitegoods as props for their tricks. Set in a share house, theatrical elements include housemate flirting, food theft, couch potatoes, and that one couple that always get on everyone’s nerves with PDAs.

But it’s the furniture of the share house that provide the hooks for Fully Furnished: the old couch, capable of swallowing people whole, provides a creative way to shuffle people around scenes. The kitchen table serves as a surface to slide across and tumble beneath. The fridge is a good place to stash performers between scenes.

The circus, acrobatic, strength, and balance elements of the show are solid – there’s no half-arsed performances here. But once you get past the narrative-driven visual style, there’s little in Fully Furnished to differentiate itself from the pack (except, maybe, the quirky ping-pong ball mouth juggling segment – that was certainly unexpected)… but at least it’s all delivered with confidence and enthusiasm that would probably make this show a winner in any other environment.

[2015165] A Simple Space

[2015165] A Simple Space

Gravity & Other Myths @ Royal Croquet Club – The Menagerie

1:00pm, Sun 15 Mar 2015

What can I say about A Simple Space that I haven’t said before? I ran out of superlatives ages ago, and my writing skills just can’t communicate the sense of joy and wonder that the guys & girls of Gravity & Other Myths bring to the stage. Ever since I first saw Freefall (still one of my favourite posts on this site), I’ve been hopelessly smitten by their company and body of work… so I was chuffed to see so many people filing into The Menagerie: a full house. So utterly, utterly happy for them.

But what can I say about this performance? They kick off with a super high-energy start – a flurry of tumbles and throws with enough space for each trick to breath and be acknowledged – before falling into the now-familiar brace of acro-games: strip-skipping, breath-holding versus handstand, the ball pelt, and so on. Jascha Boyce’s floor-to-triple climb is still stunning, and the segment where Rhiannon Cave-Walker and Jascha are thrown around and flung over the inner crowd is true heart-in-mouth stuff. And new GOMmer, Brit Daniel Liddiard, adds even more strength and balance to GOM’s repertoire as he jumps from back to back to shoulder to back of the rest of the crew.

And, once again, I wind up constantly mopping my eyes throughout the performance… because I was just weeping from the sheer joy and spectacle of A Simple Space. This act just somehow triggers this overwhelming emotional response in me… I love it. Love love love it. And I cannot understand how GOM keep improving the show, making it more and more polished… and yet manage to keep all the things that I like about it – the grit, the realness, the humanity – intact.

They deserve every decibel of applause that the audience launched at them.

As we left The Menagerie, some of the GOMmers were waiting outside, thanking the audience: I saw Triton and immediately thanked him (once again). He smiled, and returned the thanks… but that felt inappropriate. I offered him a hug of thanks – no, he protested, there’s too much sweat. Bugger that, I said, give me a big bear hug, which he did… and then I had to walk away, because (once again) I had welled up with tears of joy and the last vestige of my manliness was that I don’t want other men to see me cry.

…God I love this show.

But sometimes one tweet is not enough to get the point across:

[2015164] Shake

[2015164] Shake

Becky Lou @ Tuxedo Cat – The Coffee Pot

9:45pm, Sat 14 Mar 2015

After Becky Lou’s appearance in Lisa-Skye’s Lovely Tea Party (and, to a lesser extent, It’s Rabbit Night!!!), I vowed that I’d see her show… but I only agreed to do so once I’d learnt that it wasn’t a burlesque show.

Rather, it’s a show about Becky Lou’s path to (and through) burlesque performance, only punctuated with snippets of burlesque. Or, as Becky Lou herself stated: “It’s about me.”

Becky Lou opens with a tantalising burlesque number that ends… well, abruptly; it’s an awkward moment that she milks before shyly entering her monologue. She notes that she’s very shy, that it’s a bit awkward to be talking to an audience whilst wearing not-very-much, and that this is the first time she’s had a speaking role… and then she begins telling us about her life.

She tells us of her early fascination with music and dance, guided by Madonna; she tells us of those pubescent growing pains, of discovering her sexuality. And she tells us of her early forays into burlesque, and her exploration of the art. There’s plenty of anecdotes about her work as a burlesque performer, too, but she never gets smutty or gossipy; occasional offhand mentions of catcalls or poor working conditions work as a basis for a broader political platform that is only implied.

At regular intervals throughout the show, Becky Lou would disappear behind a dressing screen to change for her next burlesque performance; items of clothing were always carefully treated and neatly folded… there’s a respect in her ceremony. The performances themselves are gorgeous… but, in the tight confines of the Coffee Pot’s minuscule space, uncomfortable for me to watch: I feel like Captain Pervy the Smut-Hound when smiling in appreciation of a near-naked woman’s burlesque performance.

But that’s my problem, not hers.

(Another one of my problems? Inwardly freaking out at talk of nipple glue for tassels. Eeek!)

I really enjoyed getting to know Betty Lou; for someone who describes herself as shy and awkward, she’s not afraid to bare her soul for the audience in a beautifully-weighted (and occasionally funny) autobiographical story. And as well as being an incredibly sweet and compassionate host, she certainly can Shake her stuff.

[2015163] We may have to choose

[2015163] We may have to choose

Emma Hall @ Tuxedo Cat – Rivers Studio

7:15pm, Sat 14 Mar 2015

Emma Hall stands in front of a half-full room of people and holds up some cards in the style of Dylan: they define the contract between herself and the audience. I’m initially annoyed – of course I’m not going to speak! Why would you even need to tell me that? – but I calm myself; it’s always good to make sure everyone’s on the same page, and Hall is making it as clear as possible.

The cards also show some humour: apparently, her roommate thinks that We may have to choose is “experimental”.

But when her supply of cards runs out, she launches into a monologue that is more like a rehearsed stream-of-consciousness. She espouses her opinions – 641 of them, apparently – in an order that appears random, yet facilitates callbacks; her presentation is passionate, without being pointed.

The opinions are a real mish-mash of ideas: there’s the obvious expressions that no-one would disagree with (of course the smart phone has changed my life!), there’s more personal and abstract preferences, there’s broader manifesto statements that quickly define Hall in our minds, and there’s ephemera… but most are forgotten as the seemingly never-ending torrent of Hall’s ideas washes over us.

Even though it’s difficult to remember much of the detail from We may have to choose, I most certainly do remember the feeling of surfing that wave of ideas. It was truly exhilarating, heady stuff.

[2015162] I Liked You Better Online

[2015162] I Liked You Better Online

Cut Tooth Theatre Company @ Bakehouse Theatre – Studio

6:00pm, Sat 14 Mar 2015

Online dating, eh? Once looked upon as only for the desperate, there now seems to be a social acceptance of online matchmaking sites and apps; so much so that there’s been theatre and comedy shows with online dating at their core.

I Liked You Better Online presents Chloe and Steve, two people who are matched via Tinder. They alternately express their excitement and expectation for the other; their restaurant meeting leaves them disappointed at the others’ real-life personae as the stretched truths in their profiles lead to comical accusations and counter-accusations.

What follows is a light-hearted look at the way users cajole their profiles in order to attract more potential matches; neither gender is shown to be innocent in this regard, with faux anger between the pair keeping things interesting. But the script also explores what each of the characters wishes the other would have said, and explores the contradictions in their statements… but it’s all in good fun. The denouement is hackneyed rom-com, but – in the context of the entire show – works a treat.

Lara Schwerdt and Luke McMahon are both wonderful in their roles, providing a perfect balance of innocence and sneakiness, coolness and desperation. They carry I Liked You Better Online from a predictable grab-bag of online dating jokes to a more complete offering: it’s a lovely little production that provides a lot of knowing nods and laughs.

[2015161] The Cardinals

[2015161] The Cardinals

Stan’s Cafe @ Flinders St Baptist Church

4:00pm, Sat 14 Mar 2015

As I took my seat pew in the Flinders Street Baptist Church (I’d only attended a performance here once before), I paused to take a deep breath: this was my final Festival show for the year. The church was chockers, silver hair all over the place, and my arrival only five minutes before starting time forced my position into the wings… a bit of shuffling was required until the large puppet booth – already onstage – was not obscured by the church’s supporting pillars.

Three eponymous Cardinals use the puppet booth to present a show with an evangelical message; but, in an opening twist, the puppets have been waylaid, leading to the Cardinals having to improvise in the telling of their story. We, the audience, are privy to the performance and frantic re-working of their show… and that brings forth a lot of physical comedy.

The entire show is performed without dialogue (with the exception of the occasional squeal or yelp for comic effect). And despite the cartoonish qualities of the Cardinals’ clowning, there’s a sincere solemnity to their performance… and an air of exasperated resignation around their female Muslim stage manager.

The Cardinals attempts to work on many levels: there’s the physical creativity and meta-theatre of the Cardinals’ puppetry, and the interactions between the cast – the stage manager’s break for prayer amidst an all-hands-on-deck crucifixion scene was both funny and thoughtful. But the story they try to tell through their puppetry – an abridged version of The Bible (with a little contemporary creative license thrown in) – has its own highlights… including a sequence where the Cardinals depict modern terrorist attacks, eliciting gasps from the audience and consternation between the Cardinals and their stage manager.

This is all fun… but it’s not that much fun, and any deeper significance to the plot was completely lost on me. And, more to the point, this has all the trappings of a polished $30 Fringe show in a fancy venue, rather than a Festival show with a 50% premium on the ticket. And that is the thing that kinda upsets me about the inclusion of The Cardinals in the Festival programme; sure, it’s nice to offer companies like Stan’s Cafe international exposure, but I prefer the theatre slots in a Festival programme to be filled by the big and brazen productions that don’t really have a chance elsewhere.

[2015160] Trash Test Dummies

[2015160] Trash Test Dummies

Trash Test Dummies @ Garden of Unearthly Delights – Le Cascadeur

2:30pm, Sat 14 Mar 2015

I was relatively unexcited by the Trash Test Dummies last year; for all their creative wheelie-bin-based presentation, many of their tricks were familiar to a frequent circus-goer. Still, a gap in my Schedule allowed me an opportunity to check their show out again; had they added anything new to the show in the preceding twelve months?

Short answer: no. The show was more-or-less identical to that of 2014.

Having said that, I felt much more charitable about the show this time around. I really appreciated the pacing, as exemplified by the periodic insertion of the slow-motion scenes (set to the keys of Chariots of Fire and The Matrix). Not only do these add a comedic element (with a friendly nod to the parents in the audience), but they offer a chance for the Dummies to catch their breath without letting up on the action.

Other elements that caught my eye this time were the hat juggling sequence (set to New York, New York), and the fun bomb disposal routine; these two acts target the opposite ends of the audience’s age range, but not in a way that excludes the other. And that’s the nice thing about the Trash Test Dummies: whilst it’s not necessarily the best circus act going around at the Fringe, it’s certainly very inclusive and fun.

[2015159] Spring Alibi

[2015159] Spring Alibi

Northern Sabbatical Productions @ Bakehouse Theatre – Studio

1:00pm, Sat 14 Mar 2015

I always feel a little sorry for international acts that have most of their season in the back end of the Fringe; they’ve (likely) invested a lot of their money into dragging themselves over to little ol’ Adelaide with the expectation that Fringe audiences are hungry for their quirky out-of-town performances, and willing to give anything a fair shake.

Unfortunately, my experience over the years is that Adelaide is absolutely not like that. The last weekend of the Fringe is usually dead, with locals burnt out but the opportunities on offer, and few shows – other than the Big Names and/or the Garden – garnering audiences of any substantial size.

And so it was that Spring Alibi only had a quiet dozen-or-so in for a warm Saturday matinée; luckily, that’s enough to make the Studio feel non-empty. Scanning the programme whilst waiting for entry piqued my interest no end: there’s an amusing Glossary of Canadian Terms on the back page that playfully pokes fun at Canadian stereotypes (and wears the writer’s musical leanings on its sleeve).

The stage is made up like a cheap motel room: bed stage centre, stool and bar fridge on one side, chair and dresser on the other. Mac and Marlene share the stage, but are rarely in the same scene; both have found themselves in northern Canada in the springtime, but for wildly different reasons. Marlene – bubbly and boisterous, but also a little cautious – has escaped a bad relationship, and is staying in a hotel for a bit of a breather; Mac is a nice-but-shy guy – beer drinking, blue collar – who headed north for the money, and is working construction on the building across from Marlene’s hotel. In a potentially dubious happenstance, he spies her luxuriating in her room one day, and… well, one thing leads to another, and they finally meet in real life. Awkward meeting, awkward date, emotional turmoil, release.

Most of the narrative was alternately delivered by each character to an invisible friend at the other end of a phone line; there’s no real direct contact between Mac and Marlene until the very end of the play. This works well, though it does get a little tiresome towards the end: lopping a couple of scenes would have made the play a touch more succinct without losing much narrative drive. And, curiously, there’s a frankness about masturbation in these phone calls that, whilst it’s charming and funny to hear as an audience member, seems unrealistic… both in content and frequency. And for characters that are happy to discuss their masturbation and porn habits with friends on the phone, they both appear to have curious hang-ups.

As an unconventional courtship – and I’m no stranger to those – Spring Alibi is ludicrous in the extreme… and, thus, enjoyable. Sue Huff and Andy Northrup are utterly charming as Marlene and Mac, and Kevin Tokarsky’s see-sawing direction keeps interest levels high throughout. Spring Alibi was certainly a fun piece of theatre that deserved a bigger audience… but it’s hard to overcome Fringe burnout with quirky wank-fuelled rom-com.

[2015158] Ro Campbell: Road Warrior

[2015158] Ro Campbell: Road Warrior

Ro Campbell @ Producers Nook

9:45pm, Fri 13 Mar 2015

I’ve been a big fan of Ro Campbell since I first saw him – and that fandom didn’t diminish between his 2010 and 2014 shows. But had anything changed with Ro since last year?

Thankfully, no. He’s still a filthy-mouthed storyteller who has the uncanny knack of knowing just where to insert that one, perfectly uttered profanity into an otherwise mellifluous sentence that turns it into the rudest thing ever. His “mining for clitoris” joke is still hilarious, as are his tales of gigs in correctional facilities and ore mining camps… and his description of a gig at the Useless Loop salt mine left me speechless.

But it was the tail end of his season here, and I get the feeling that Ro was kinda happy that it was coming to a close. He was constantly calling into question his commitment to the Adelaide Fringe, dropping snide little remarks: “The other ten months of the year, I actually make money!” he exclaimed, but I suspect that was more to remind himself than to convince us.

There was a genuine feeling of burnout in Ro’s performance… but he still made it work, comedy-wise. I’m not sure how his mental health was going, but I suspect that nearly melting down in front of a small audience didn’t really help. I still love his work to death, but Ro… look after yourself, man.

[2015157] Bully

[2015157] Bully

Mick Neven @ Producers Garden

8:45pm, Fri 13 Mar 2015

Seeing the name Bully in the Fringe Guide instantly took me back to Richard Fry’s classic performance; seeing it in the Comedy section assured me that this was not going to be someone else tackling that script. Unfortunately, the number of people who assembled in the Producers Garden for this performance could be counted on one hand…

…but Mick Neven was unconcerned, and gently coaxed us all together with the promise that there was no threat of unwanted audience participation. And then he outlines the premise of the show: he’d been bullied at primary school, but then – succumbing to peer pressure – started bullying his best friend when they were in Year 9.

Neven pulls no punches when describing both sides of the bullying coin; whilst he does sprinkle some humour into the monologue, the details are raw… and you can see the lasting impact of the actions (both by and against him). The fact that he’d turned on his former best mate weighed on his mind… until he decided to track him down and apologise – after 25 years. The tale around this apology (and – spoiler! – its phone-recorded acceptance) was really well told, and he explores a lot of the intended – and unintended – consequences of these socially-driven actions.

As a writer, Neven has balanced Bully to perfection: the mix of light and dark content (as well as humour) is spot on, and the manner in which he eases in background material – what it’s like growing up in rural Queensland, for example – is cunningly impressive. And, late in the show, Neven provides the audience with the opportunity to either confront the people who bullied us, or apologise to the people we’d bullied, using Punchy the Self-Defence Dummy. This could have been quite a powerful part of the show, but the tiny audience didn’t really help in that regard.

And that’s a massive shame, because Bully was a really wonderful show. Neven is a great storyteller, and his story is full of heart and compassion, but his comedic talent is a bit sneakier: even with the background of emotional abuse that forms the bedrock of the show, he still managed to get me laughing at terribly inappropriate material… but, when my internal filter caught myself, it made me really think about my response to the joke. That’s a great trick; I just wish more (many more) people got to see it.

[2015156] Sous Vide

[2015156] Sous Vide

Laura Boynes & Tony Currie @ Holden Street Theatres – The Studio

7:30pm, Fri 13 Mar 2015

I read choreographer Laura Boynes’ claims that Sous Vide “explores preservation and humanities’ attempts to immortalise the world around us” just before I walked into The Studio to see the work… so when I saw a vacuum-seal bag filled with ice cubes hanging from the ceiling, I inwardly smirked. I distinctly remember thinking “This is either going to be really good, or self-indulgent symbolic bullshit.”

Luckily, it turned out to be the former.

When Boynes and Tony Currie take to the stage, they’re wearing garment bags and wielding vacuum cleaners; their movements become a ludicrous dance of domesticity, and all the while the ice in the bag is melting… creaks from the bag seem to indicate the passing of time, the impermanence of man.

Or something.

The dance is vibrant and challenging; abstract, yet with visual cues rooted in the familiar. Best of all, though, is the fact that it’s genuinely entertaining, with a staging that is both curious and full of humour. There’s an element of theatre to the piece, too, with quirky looks between Boynes and Currie driving expectation, narrative, and humour.

But the best thing about Sous Vide is its pacing. Even when the speed of movement slows, the show never loses its interest: there’s always some quirky set-piece being established, or a prop being used in an unexpected manner. The marriage of that pacing with some wonderful dancing (and some cheeky stabs at modern life) results in a polished production that completely belies Boynes’ self-imposed “work-in-progress” tag… this was a truly great piece of contemporary dance theatre.

[2015155] #nofilter

[2015155] #nofilter

Beans and Such & South Australian Youth Arts Theatre Company @ Holden Street Theatres – The Studio

6:00pm, Fri 13 Mar 2015

Out of the (unfortunate) ashes of Urban Myth came SAYarts; #nofilter‘s development began with the former company with the instruction that they create a show about selfies. What eventuated was a series of mostly comedic sketches that poke fun at the current obsession with selfies and their manipulation, while deconstructing their prevalence.

It’s a young cast, and the dialogue they enter is undoubtedly targeted at a young audience… but it’s interesting to see their take on the need for (and perceived importance of) self expression, if only because these kids are growing up in an era where selfies are a thing… to me, they feel like a narcissistic abuse of the technology which facilitates their spread.

Claire Glenn’s direction keeps a pretty tight reign on these sketches, with few of them outstaying their welcome… however, it was always going to be nigh-on impossible to avoid the overuse of the word “selfie” – I had one of those experiences where the word became almost laughably meaningless, a feeling which almost recurred whilst I was writing this. The performances were all confident and assured, delivered with just enough airiness to suit the light-hearted nature of the content.

Look – #nofilter was hardly the greatest bit of theatre going around… but, though it was targeted at an audience thirty years my junior, the intent was earnest and the dialogue rang true. A tidy little production by a team that showed enthusiasm and promise.

[2015154] Fancy Boy Variety Show

[2015154] Fancy Boy Variety Show

Fancy Boy @ Producers Warehouse

11:00pm, Thu 12 Mar 2015

I can’t remember who initially hyped Fancy Boy to me… but, from an advertising perspective, they did absolutely the right thing, because my brain built up expectation for this show beyond any reasonable limits. And that was kinda a bad thing… but also totally appropriate for the bizarre performance that I witnessed.

Stuart Daulman acted as emcee for the eponymous Variety Show, and wrangled the acts in the guise of a bad (read: terrible) South African standup comic. The acts themselves came from the cast of five(?) who’d assembled for this edition of the show: there was some bad “French” standup, followed by the Stick Men, who each managed some decent laughs; Puppetry of the Anus, on the other hand, were hilarious in the build-up, but the joke died real quick.

But then came the Free Speech Crew, who “…overcame the communist fascist republic dictatorship of Australia by throwing cum at Princess Diana” to show that free speech (and rape jokes where a victim is in the audience) are always good payoffs. Mixing current comedy tropes (both good and bad) with a bunch of non sequiturial abstract nonsense totally paid off here… but the undoubted highlights of the Variety Show were the intermittent appearances of the Amputee Dance Team – Thriller and Time Warp were great fun, but their performance of Macarena was nothing short of genius.

Fancy Boy Variety Show is apparently intended to be a free-form character comedy show, where any comedian (not just the Fancy Boy regulars) can come and try out new, potentially offensive (or just plain wrong) characters in a relatively safe space. Much is made of the Fancy Boy policy of “absolutely no refunds under any circumstances”; but, to be fair, when you have material as bizarre as this, it’s kinda fair enough – the average off-the-street punter is probably not going to hang around for long in this show. But, given the audience seemed to be mostly populated with other artists and comedians this evening, I don’t think that there would have been many asking for refunds.

[2015153] Paul Currie: Release the Baboons

[2015153] Paul Currie: Release the Baboons

Paul Currie @ Garden of Unearthly Delights – Cupola

9:45pm, Thu 12 Mar 2015

Despite that fancy Internet thing, I didn’t know much about Paul Currie when I entered the Cupola… but his blurb mentioned “absurdist” and “clownarchist”, so I figured that this show would probably be there or thereabouts for me.

Let me tell you about Paul Currie, friends: He Is Anarchy.

The Cupola is – charitably – about half-full this evening, and – as is my wont – I took a seat down the front. When Currie entered, looking mad as a hatter with wide piercing eyes and rambunctious beard, he didn’t like the layout of the crowd… and proceeded to rearrange members of the audience. My new neighbour, separated from his friends across the aisle, looked quite wary; “Don’t worry, you’ll be right!” I assured him.

You know what? I was wrong.

Crowd arranged to his satisfaction, Currie then worked to get us cheering to an appropriate level, invoking The NeverEnding Story fist-pump. Party-poppers were freely distributed and, maybe ten minutes into the show, we emerged from the introduction with an ebullient hubbub.

But then I discovered how much Currie leveraged the audience during his show. While performing a feigned-masturbation percussion piece, he maintained uncomfortable eye contact with me; he later slapped a shampoo shield over my head and folded it down so that I couldn’t see anything. I could feel him ruffle my hair, and hear groans from the audience as I assume he licked his hands to tease my tangerine follicles. The shampoo shield is tied to a “No More Tears” segment that I gleefully participated in, shredding my voice in the process; the cheers from the audience when I kept upping the volume felt good.

With a manic bluster, he’d roam the audience and demand that they “kiss the [rubber] duck”; to end the show, he perpetuated an all-in bread fight with the entire crowd.

Currie’s audience participation bits were equal parts terrifying and hilarious; the fear came as he stalked the audience for “volunteers”, with laughter of relief (that he’d found someone else) being replaced by laughter of disbelief (at the absurdity of his actions). And participation was almost demanded: his ability to bellow at audience members and not get punched was impressive, and his blunt crowd management of the chatty chaps down the back of the room – pointing at them and yelling “Fuck off!” repeatedly – was brave… and crazy. As a result, the moments where he focusses his craft on the stage for some bizarre little sketch almost feel like respite, like introspection, like a chance for Currie himself to catch his breath.

There’s no doubting that Paul Currie is confident, and absurdly manic, and funny… but, months after the fact, I’m still trying to figure out whether he oversteps the line with his audience participation. He’s almost aggressive in the pursuit of the joke-at-the-audience’s-expense, and whilst most of the crowd was with him this evening, I would hate to see what would happen if they weren’t. His sketch comedy bits were wacky enough, but I think he’s trying to turn audience antagonism into performance art… and he’s bloody good at it.