Monkeyshines [FringeTIX]
Loose Canon Arts @ The Deluxe
11:30pm, Thu 23 Feb 2012
So – I’m a bit grumpy after my favourite breakfast vendor let me down, leaving me hungry. And I’m fully expecting this performance of Monkeyshines to be cancelled – after all, it’s a weekday matinee before the Fringe officially starts. And, upon arrival, it became immediately apparent that this was very much a possibility – there’s myself, two judges, and a Dad and his wheelchair-dependant son. Liesel Badorrek (previously seen in Hardboiled Lolly) popped out in costume to speak to us: we usually riff on the energy of kids in the audience, she explains, so it’d be great if you could all come back another day. The Dad and the judges explain the difficulty of their situations; fair enough, she says, we’ll roll with it.
And they rolled well.
Despite the fact that the “crowd” was spread – father and son way out left, constrained by the wheelchair, and the rest of us in the middle – the Monkeyshines crew (Badorrek as Dr Sweetpea McGee, Johnny Nasser as Gorgeous George, and Leonie Cohen as the keyboard-playing mute Sideshow Pony) put on a fantastic performance that only really lacked the applause of a larger crowd.
Monkeyshines is all about circus sideshow home surgery: Dr Sweetpea McGee is a master of the art, and Gorgeous George her enthusiastic apprentice. The two stage performers have an engaging, pun-laden sideshow spiel that they project at the audience, alternatively disappearing to decorate themselves as the next circus home surgery miracle. First up is Cha Cha, the half-man, half-monkey – Nasser plays this amazingly well, with fantastic chimpish mannerisms – it’s wonderfully, comically convincing. Pipi the levitating midget is good for some laughs, and Badorrek and Nasser team up to form the Flying Beavers (a gloriously crapulent redneck trapeze wannabe duo) and the Black Forrest Siamese Twins, Olga and Golga. George oversteps the mark and performs some surgery of his own on the Twins, leading to some tension between he and McGee; as punishment, George winds up as a ludicrous half-man, half-duck – his oversized wings/hands were ace.
Despite the tiny audience, the Monkeyshines performers were absolutely wonderful. It’s a really enjoyable show with something for everyone – the overtly silly visuals for the kids, and little throwaway snippets of dialogue for the adults (there’s even a cheekily brief Mahna Mahna thrown in for good measure). It was fascinating to sit through the show wondering how it would change had a sea of children been present; but that didn’t really matter for me, because I had a ball. I really, really hope their crowds picked up, though…