Dandyman [FringeTIX]
Daniel Oldaker @ The Garden of Unearthly Delights – The Spare Room
9:45pm, Sat 16 Feb 2013
Occasionally you go to a performance that feels… well, unfinished. Like the performer is trialling some material out, evolving the show somewhat, with an eye towards delivering a more coherent experience at another Festival. This is usually most evident with comedians, who trial material and shape their show in Adelaide before migrating to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
But it’s somewhat rarer to find other performance pieces in such an embryonic form. Sure, when I saw last year Dr Brown admitted he was starting his show from scratch, but Dandyman felt even less prepared than that.
Daniel Oldaker’s character, dressed in a sky-blue suit with a bow-tie made of pink drinking straws, is certainly charming enough as he bumbles into The Spare Room and, through shoulder shrugs and smiles and quirky non-lingual vocalisations, tries to drag us into his somewhat vaudevillian world. He juggles balls and clubs; he fashions more straws into odd objects; he attempts to perform with a diabolo.
But Oldaker is clearly not at ease in the venue. He’s constantly looking upwards, unsure whether the stage has the height to permit the tricks he wants to perform; he even takes out a light globe during one constrained juggling attempt. It’s also evident that he’s not quite sure what he’s going to do next; this leaves the audience restless and uncomfortable, doubly so once the Dandyman decides to partially strip.
And maybe that’s the point – to make the audience feel out-of-sorts whilst being distracted by simple carnival tricks. But I can’t fathom what the deeper motivation behind such a decision would be; as a result, I left The Spare Room thinking that I’d just paid good money to watch someone else experiment with ideas of what could possibly, one day, be entertainment.