Asher Treleaven, Secret Door [FringeTIX]
Asher Treleaven @ Le Cascadeur
10:00pm, Sat 12 Feb 2011
“IF YOU DON’T STOP TALKING, I WILL FUCKING KILL YOU” yells Asher Treleaven, eyes wide like a crazed animal, before flicking his hair aside in his elaborate manner. After an apology to any reviewers present – “just say ‘deals with hecklers calmly'” – he returns to his monologue; moments later, the muttering begins again on the right-hand side of Le Cascadeur. His smile drops, he stares at the source of the noise in raging disbelief; then, from the cluster of quietened people, comes a meek cry: “I’m translating.”
There’s a moment… a long moment… where we didn’t quite know what was going to happen. Was Treleaven going to have a rage aneurysm, blood spurting from his nose, ruining his crisp white suit? Would he throw them out in a fit of why-would-you-come-to-a-comedy-show-if-you-don’t-understand-the-language?
The stare breaks; he gasps, then grins. The room cracks up; he enquires of the language that is the translation target, then asks “How do you translate ‘rapid-fire bunny-fuck’ in Polish?”
Now, that little exchange – though entirely memorable – is completely at odds with the rest of Treleaven’s show. Because, behind his dapper appearance and flamboyant idiosyncratic gestures (the lanky skipping across the stage, the hand flourishes), Secret Door is actually quite a biting, politically charged piece. Utilising three “poisonous personalities”, he explores various social problems in general (and the greed and stupidity of men in particular), using these ideas as springboards for satiric and straight-comedic insight alike.
Wilson Tuckey is used to initiate a segment about phobias and violence; Thomas Midgley, Jr‘s work (knowingly) endangering the lives of thousands of workers demonstrated the unfettered greed of man. But it was the introduction of Steve Fielding, the Family First federal senator who compared same-sex marriages to incest, and declared that divorces should be more difficult to obtain because they add to the impact of global warming (via “resource-inefficient lifestyle[s]”), that yielded the best comedy for me.
With the weighty socio-political content, and with his periodic pill-popping (without explanation) during the show, Asher’s performance has certainly changed a bit since I last saw him… but, just as I thought this show was a bit too heavy, he pulled out some old material in the form of a Mills & Boon reading. But then it was back to his own experiences product testing, a callback to the odd “airplane humour” joke he set up earlier, and it was done.
Now – I’m really torn by this show. On the one hand, I love the political content and satire; on the other hand, I love Treleaven’s sharp wit and mannerisms. But the problem is that I think these ingredients just don’t mix in this show; the introduction of each of the poisonous personalities coincides with a distinct lull in the comedy. This wouldn’t be so bad if there was a quick recovery, but the contrast is so great that the lingering feeling is of a patchy performance. Which is sad, really, since there is so much to like about it.