Tag Archives: comedy

Review: Dating the World – part of the Sydney Fringe Festival

by Erica Brennan

Dating The World – part of the Sydney Fringe.

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I had heard whispers of good things about ‘Dating the World’ for awhile now and I was not disappointed. As I sat for the second time is as many weeks at the New Theatre I gazed upon a mostly bare stage with some cleverly hidden (and some not so, thank you theatre black curtains) objects and waited. Soon Stevl Shefn arrives with a battered suitcase, looking charmingly battered himself and greets us unintelligible language. He chatters away in a convincing manner hoping to get some kind of information out of us. A smile on his face and a nervous click to his voice, he tries again and again to explain what he wants. Finally his translator, Fatima, in full body burqa and just as fluent in Stevl’s language as ours, arrives. The two have a brief flurry of conversation and then she stands demurely to one side explaining that she will translate everything Stevl says.

Stevl has set himself up to give a lecture on love, but it is anything but. He starts to tell stories of what I think are failed love affairs all translated fluently by Fatima, but none of them seem to climax properly. Instead Stevl deviates further and further, distracted by his own delight, until you as an audience member you realise the deviations are the story and it ends. The performing duo of Steve Sheehan and Emma Beech were exceptionally skilled walking the line between understatement and character acting beautifully. You could never quite relax into the situation or become truly absorbed in the story. The effect was an electrifying tension.

As a piece of comedy ‘Dating the World’ is twisty and turny, it doesn’t give anything away. I found myself searching for meaning in every new story, each side tale and deviation. I was trying to decide what words were important, which anecdote was the one at which I supposed to be going ‘ah ha!’ I was waiting for a reveal of some kind, like learning the significance of why Fatmia in a burqua. About halfway through I blushed at my own pompous presumption that there had to be a definite reason for it.

It sounds like a frustrating experience but it was actually just the opposite. I was leaning forward the whole time with a bemused smile on my face and a soft chuckle in my throat. Fatima and her burqua were only small considerations, like many of my other attempts to make meaning, and I quickly found myself letting go and just enjoying this theatrical offering. Now after some time has passed I began to wonder if the crowning jewel of the piece was in acknowledging that people are weird. That we want to connect with others and so we struggle through our weirdness to do this, through dating, friendship, performance, etc. Then perhaps it is our obsession with meaning making that stops us from actually just sitting and allowing that connection to happen without explanation.

Or maybe ‘Dating the World’ was just a truly beautiful deviation from traditional three beat rhythms of performance. It reminded me of British stand up comedian Bill Bailey, a bit less melancholic, but a fine example of the imagination going gently wild. Go catch it if you can.

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Review: The 8 Reindeer Monologues

by Erica J Brennan

I have a particular fondness for dinner theatre because it implies a whole evening devoted to good company, good food, and nothing but pure entertainment. Living and working in Sydney and recently becoming more involved in experimental and interdisciplinary arts, I relish the chance to get back to a live show that lets nothing but my funny bone be tickled. Therefore it was with some excitement that I made a long cold drive up the Great Western Highway towards the Leura Golf Course and The 8 Reindeer Monologues.

This production takes the form of eight monologues loosely centered around a confessional telling of some shady crime the holly jolly Santa Claus has committed against his one of his reindeer. In an extremely haphazard and shallow way a longer list of dark deeds in uncovered over the 2 hour show. Vixen is claiming rape and Rudolf the lovable red nose reindeer has been reduced to a huddled mess after witnessing something he shouldn’t have. Mrs Claus is an alcoholic who likes to strap elves to her genitals. Written here, these individual elements sound like interesting fodder for a vicious cabaret, but in putting them together this production has some very hit-or-miss moments.

A warning was attached to the promotional material stating that The 8 Reindeer Monologues is an ‘adults-only black comedy’ and I have no objection to dark material (must laugh other wise we cry right?) but be warned that the blackness of this comedy runs the gamut from the absurd to the upsetting. No topic is off limits.

I wanted to enjoy it, I really did, particularly because I very much wish The Blue Mountains had a theatre scene worthy of its seething creativity. However I struggled to muster warm and fuzzy feelings about attempts to make comedy out of pedophilia and bestiality, at least when such humour relied on sometimes shallow and stereotypical characters. I personally felt as though some of the subjects could have been treated with a little more subtlety or sensitivity, though I did chuckle a few times but more out of awkwardness than anything else. The audience around me seemed to enjoy sections of the story more than I did with a little good natured heckling happening from a few sides. Some of the performers incorporated it well in to their act, others seeming terrified that people had spoken up. The performers themselves got stronger as the evening went on, and I would expect continued improvement throughout the rest of the run.

It takes an incredible amount of energy and effort to put together any type of live performance and I hope to see much, much more created and performed in the Blue Mountains. The 8 Reindeer Monologues is a challenging piece of comedy, and I recommend going to see it with an extremely open mind.

Performance Dates in July Friday 6th, 13th, 20th and 27th Saturdays 7th, 14th 21st and 28th
Tickets from $40.
Leura Golf Course Sublime Point Rd Leura
For Bookings and More Information http://www.whatsantadid.com.au/tickets/