[2012017] Sam Simmons – About The Weather

[2012017] Sam Simmons – About The Weather [FringeTIX]

Sam Simmons @ The Deluxe

8:30pm, Sun 19 Feb 2012

For me, nothing Sam Simmons has done since my first exposure to his work in 2006 has come close to matching the surreal ingenuity and joy of that work; there’s been a lot of great shows in the meantime, don’t get me wrong, but nothing that’s a game-changer. Nothing that ups the ante. His 2009 effort, The Sam Simmons Experience, attempted to weave his nonsensical humour into a narrative… it didn’t quite work then, and I was a bit concerned when About The Weather indicated that it, too, was a narrative-based show.

It turned out that there was no need to worry.

All of the Simmons tropes were still present – the sudden sojourns into abstract thoughts. The recurring retro-culture motif (this time, an old Gillette ad). More bloody cats (mostly of the Chinese Lucky Waving kind). A reliance on a pre-recorded Narrator. Long, ultra-profane rants about insignificant occurrences.

But the narrative thread upon which the show hangs – Simmons’ The Man’s attraction to a woman on his bus, their shared journey the only moment of joy in his otherwise tedious existence – is so strong, and so well written, that it could carry the show even if all the weird shit wasn’t in there.

What weird shit? The presence of Mr Meowgie, a philosophical cat between Simmons’ The Man’s home and bus-stop. The Narrator, sick of Simmons’ complaints about the script, forcing him into a spiel about campfire hot jeans. An ill-advised segment where he passed crappy sandshoes out to the audience and, whilst holding a box containing seagulls in front of his face, demanded that they throw the shoes at the gulls… resulting in a scorecard of Audience 2, Testicles 0. An interlude that allowed Simmons the opportunity to dress up for a fifteen-second rendition as the Keyboard Cat.

But the oddball highlight was Spinception – a segment where Simmons pulled someone onstage and span them around on an office chair. The guy from the audience (Alan?) initially looked stoned, but by the time he’d finished he looked like he was going to hurl; unable to walk straight, he toppled into the front row, Simmons scrambling to minimise the impact on the audience. The look of honest concern, mixed with horror and genuine delight, on Simmons’ face as he helped Alan back to his seat felt like a very honest moment; a humbling moment for an insecure man blessed with genius.

Given that tonight’s was only the third performance of About The Weather here in Adelaide, Simmons’ performance was surprisingly tight. The pre-recorded material – especially the Narrator – was exceptionally well used, and the timings were spot-on. The denouement – including the resolution of the Ikea coffee table battle – is equal parts heartwarming, charming, and batshit crazy, and the overall feeling I have as I leave The Deluxe is that Simmons is right on track. It’s a great performance by a (now-)seasoned operator, and the presence of a meatier narrative should prove more palatable to the punters who’ve been put off by Simmons’ fractured abstractions in the past.

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