[2013021] Sullivan and Bok

[2013021] Sullivan and Bok

Claire Sullivan and Lauren Bok @ Austral Hotel – Red Room

6:00pm, Sun 17 Feb 2013

I’m the first to admit that, sometimes, my processes aren’t perfect… and this was demonstrated when I looked at my collection of tickets for the day and discovered that the show that my scheduling spreadsheet assured me was at 6:15pm was actually an hour later. Thus, that show was dropped, and a hole in my schedule needed to be filled; I checked the timeline and found another shortlisted show – one I’d originally slated for later in the Fringe – and made my way to the Austral.

I grabbed a ticket at the door, and was directed to the upstairs bar to await the readiness of the show; I grabbed a beer and collapsed on the lounge, happy for the opportunity to make some notes. After a few minutes I see a blonde woman walking towards me with a nervous smile: “Hi,” she said, “are you here to see a show?”

“Yes,” I replied.

“Are you here to see my show?”

“If you are either a ‘Sullivan’ or a ‘Bok’, then yes.”

And that’s how I met Lauren Bok, who went on to explain that I was the only ticket-holder for the evening’s performance – “we’re happy to give you a freebie for another night,” she suggested, “or we can do the show anyway.”

I trot out my usual lines – my schedule is ever-so-busy, I’d really prefer to see the show now if at all possible, but I understand if it’s too uncomfortable for you to perform to an audience of one. Bok assures me they’re happy to perform to an audience of any size, and as we start amiably chatting (after being joined by Claire Sullivan) a man wanders into the bar… and his face looks familiar. It takes a few seconds for me to recognise Lachlan, who used to live in my building – Adelaide! – and who had also just purchased a ticket for the show.

So with two paying customers – and friend Hayley Brennan, another comedian – forming an audience, we all bundled into the Red Room full of good humour and cheer. Lachlan and I spaced ourselves out comfortably in the second row – the front row is just too close to the stage of the Red Room – whilst Sullivan and Bok conferred in whispers at the back of the room. Suddenly they configure themselves in a bizarre horse-riding configuration that has Sullivan riding Bok to the stage as they both bluster their way through the “to be or not to be” soliloquy from Hamlet, before disintegrating into a game of Marco Polo – a decidedly odd start to proceedings.

Claire eventually takes a seat at the back of the room, leaving Lauren solo onstage to perform some (comparatively!) conventional standup – and it’s pretty good stuff, as she presents the origins of her surname before moving onto quirky tales from her retail work. A cigar-box ukelele makes an appearance for a great short song, before Sullivan’s reappearance is preceded by a curious video of the techie’s cats – or so we are told.

Sullivan’s solo piece was… well, fucking bizarre. “I love Adelaide,” she begins – before emphasising “Antelaide.” Thereafter followed a spiral into a philosophical discussion questioning whether ants had thoughts, before she encouraged us to all wear party hats to mimic unicorns, and concluded her set by creating a chair tunnel and crawling underneath us.

There’s no denying the fact that the combination of Bok and Sullivan is a marriage of the straight-(wo)man and the utterly bizarre – they admit as much in their précis. And on the basis of the material (and style! and class!) they showed a tiny audience tonight, they could very well be the next Cloud Girls… and that means they’ll most definitely hold a place on my “must see” list.

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