When she was 13 years old, Clem Bastow decided she was going to move to Hollywood and become a screenwriter. Over a decade later, she put her plan into motion and set off for East LA with a work visa and a dream. Not everything went to plan. An existential crisis or two was had. Now back in Melbourne, Bastow may not have an Oscar, but she does have an hour of terrific comedy.
Escape From LA is bittersweet. The realities of making it in the entertainment business may be harsh, but Bastow has transformed them into something hilarious, from tales of working the junket circuit, to assisting friendly gangstas, to the constant anxiety-inducing threat of earthquakes. DJ Slig (complete with Oddworld-style gas mask) runs interference on the soundboard throughout. The zany sound effects clash wonderfully with the more sombre material in the show, even if they’re overzealous at times. Paired with the occasional light show, it’s trashy, over-the-top, and befitting of a show about Hollywood. Bastow and Slig have a belligerent chemistry that adds a layer of anarchy to the mood created.
In the later half of the show, Bastow’s tale of her search for an identity was very relatable. As someone who currently has some abandoned derby skates, a Final Fantasy costume and a Russian Punch Embroidery kit languishing in her cupboard, it almost got a bit too real. While her material deals with very personal, difficult moments in her recent past, her delivery is spot-on and you never feel uncomfortable about laughing.
Escape From LA is an honest and cleverly written piece from a talented performer, encapsulating the chaotic highs and lows of the Hollywood experience. Bastow has created a fantastic show here, and it’s well worth checking out before the Fringe ends.
Clem Bastow – Escape From LA is on at Bar Open until October 4