Dance of the Flame Retardant Monkey (FringeTIX)
Dave Callan @ Fringe Factory Theatre
9:00pm, Sun 18 Mar 2007
This had so much potential.
Dave Callan has a likable presence on stage, and he seemed intent on producing a snappy AV-driven bit of surreal comedy. But something, somewhere, went somewhat wrong, so I find myself typing this whilst wistfully thinking about All That Could Have Been.
Dave relies on a pair of independent screens to scoot his performance along, controlling them with his oft-dropped remote controls. One of the screens was intermittently showing a “Technical Fuckup” slide, helpfully provided by some the constantly-crashing slideshow application on Callan’s Mac. Occasionally, the screens would slip out of sync, too – which was especially problematic, given since Callan’s act so heavily depends on his rapid banter with his pre-recorded self. Bits of this were often well done; but Sam Simmons performs the same tricks much, much better.
So – what’s the show about then? Well, given the disconnected and surreal nature of a lot of the content, it’s kind of hard to nail down… but at times, it can feel a little bit like a positivity-gushing self-help seminar; there’s eastern philosophy and World Vision promotions and anti-smoking messages and rants against consumerism. And, occasionally, there’s a laugh – though the only one I can really remember was Dacca Macca’s interview for The Arts Show.
In the end, Dance of the Flame Retardant Monkey just doesn’t feel at all cohesive; it’s a big mish-mash of ideas and sketches and rants. It’s not a competent piece of comedy, nor theatre, nor spoken word, nor multimedia production. I came away bemused, rather than amused.
Finally, I’ve got no idea what was up with the audience. The crowd reeked of that booze-mixed-with-sweat smell, and apparently audience participation was mandatory. Some woman kept blathering on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on about her broken chair while Callan was trying to wrap up the show; he tried dealing with her interruptions once, but each subsequent pointless yelp from her led to a tiny bit of gleam being robbed from his eyes. By the end of the performance, he must have felt dead inside, wondering why exactly he was performing for people such as her. Congratulations, you fucking self-important smug bitch – you’ve potentially killed an artist.