By Colin Flaherty
Andy Rodger’s thespian character Charles Barrington has been treading the boards of the Melbourne comedy scene for a number of years but this is the first time that I have spent an hour in his company. I’m afraid I have to report that the experience was a bit of a let down.
Rather than the pompous theatre relic or the over the top Luvvy that you normally get with similar characters, this incarnation of Barrington is a broken man. Opening with some amusingly harsh reviews of last years show he rambles through his monologues with a defeatist attitude, often giving up on a joke and trailing off into awkward silence. Participatory parts of the show weren’t clearly defined, resulting in Barrington scolding us when we didn’t play along. The concluding segment that would normally have redeemed him as the hero of the piece was anti-climactic instead.
This show didn’t delve into his past glories for laughs, instead being a series of skewed observations from this eccentric man. There was the odd flash of comical self importance with some snide remarks about us as an audience but he didn’t deliver it with a twinkle in the eye to endear himself to us. He name dropped the odd celebrity or movie/theatre production to lead into comically lame puns but his heart wasn’t in it to present them with the delusional grandeur required to extract maximum laughs/groans. He usually ended up unnecessarily explaining the joke to us when the laughs failed to materialise.
I’m all for keeping true to a downtrodden persona but the melancholy tended to mess up the timing of routines and stomp all over the punch lines. Underneath it all were some hilarious and clever ideas that weren’t allowed to shine. A musical segment that was clearly supposed to be a major set piece was performed with lethargy and fell flat despite plenty of brilliant lines amongst the mumbling mess.
I’ve seen most of these routines do well in the short spots of Barrington that I have seen in the past. I’m hoping that this performance was a case of opening night nerves that will be tightened up as the run progresses rather than a new direction of wallowing in self pity.
On Like Barrington! is on at The Tuxedo Cat until April 6
By Elyce Phillips
If you’re anything like me, you’ve been wondering for years why there is not a comedy show that is also a dog show. It’s such a hassle trying to attend both all the time. Why not bring them together? Well, lucky for us, our prayers have been answered by ‘The Experiment’. Hosted by Asher Treleaven, Geraldine Hickey and the constantly-grinning Oliver Clark, the late-night show is the perfect opportunity for comedians to get weird.
The trio of hosts complement each other perfectly. Hickey was wonderfully deadpan, giving us some animal facts and reading out a very pertinent letter to our new Minister for Women’s Affairs, Tony Abbott. Clark manned the sound effects and ran interference, dressed like an electric-blue nightmare – the lovechild of Tony Barber and Tony Clifton. Treleaven bridges the divide, holding the reins and fostering an enthusiastically supportive atmosphere that ensures the special guests are met with rapturous applause, regardless of the material they try out.
On the evening I attended there were four guests, all of which were fantastic. Anne Edmonds performed some great new material about Nazi fancy dress, Dave Callan busted some serious moves to Britney Spears’ ‘Hit Me One More Time’, Claire Hooper treated us to a suite of Fables from her upcoming Fringe show and Charles Barrington delighted with his tale ‘The Ugly Natalie Portman’. Alas, on this evening there was no dog show. A lady in the audience did bring a small toy dog, which Treleaven received with the disdain it rightfully deserved.
‘The Experiment’ is brilliantly unhinged and a great chance to see some comedy from the stranger end of the spectrum. With new guests every night, it’s certainly a show that I’m going to check out a few more times. A really great way to top-off your night at the Fringe.
A final note- the call-out for small dogs is entirely serious, so bring your small dog if you have one. As of right now, the prize money has jackpotted to $45. Hot dang!
The Experiment in on in The Ballroom at the Lithuanian Club until October 5.