With the title Wake Up, Sheeple! and its advertising material (text manually typed with the classified content blacked out) this show had my mind racing as to what it could be. The most obvious scenario would have been the demented rantings of a lunatic played for laughs. Instead what we got was a fun comedic lecture about all things conspiratorial. To top it off, our host was a genuinely friendly fellow; far from the unstable basement dweller or ‘enlightened’ stoner we may have been expecting.
Sam Rankin explored a number of conspiracy theories and showed us the laughably flimsy reasoning behind them. The ridiculousness of those theories were presented with lots of visual aids, audio clips and many witty quips. This field can be easy to ridicule so he used many cleverly amusing concepts to get his points across. He avoided going for the obvious punchlines and added some wonderful jokes from different angles which were so much stronger.
He delved deeper with some songs and a bit of role-playing with audience members. His opening night audience obliged with minimal prompting as he went to great lengths to maintain a non-threatening environment. We were like putty in his hands (gullible fools, perhaps?).
Linking the topics was Dale, a junior member of the Illuminati getting a grilling by an unseen superior. It involved some wonderful character work by Rankin who, with his cape and aluminium foil hat, played an adorably naïve guy whose ambitions for world domination fell well short of those expected by the hierachy. These segments gave the show a fun narrative arc that had an amusing conclusion and a brilliant original song to boot.
This was a tech heavy production with lighting used to set the mood, multiple microphones to enable audience participation and many audio cues for Rankin to react to. His Techie was the straight man in this one man show and was clearly indispensible.
An amusing and informative show, it combined stand up with theatre in a seamless manner. Be prepared to shed your paranoia and laugh heartily.
Wake Up, Sheeple! is on at The Tuxedo Cat at 7.15 until September 20.