Abel Seaman : Art! Art! Art!

By Colin Flaherty

After exploring Australian history last year (Australia! Australia! Australia!, MICF 2012) the duo of Abel Seaman (Martin Dunlop and Michael Teychenne) are back to tackle the art world. This is a silly hour of sketch mocking many artists and movements as well as taking clever swipes at the creative process, art marketing and art appreciation. If already you’ve seen the YouTube videos promoting the show you’ll be pleased to know that only some of this material makes an appearance, plenty more ideas are on offer.

There is a comfortable mix of one joke sketches and more involved pieces. Many scenes explore some clever concepts and contain witty lines while others are based on pure silliness to keep the audience chuckling. A couple of recurring sketches are problematic; one fails to repeat the brilliance of the first iteration while the other only exists to set up a rather limp finale.

At times they assume you know some background about the artist/movement to work things out on your own, but these jokes are general enough to get laughs on a superficial level. One particular sketch assumes knowledge about two kids TV shows about art and if you aren’t familiar with either program understanding the references is quite a challenge. They do preface it with a warning of age specificity and add plenty of visual gags but the considerable length of it puts it in danger of losing some punters.

Using costuming and props, they bring an array of wacky characters to life. It often seems that Michael is the one most eager to don a wig and put on a silly accent while Martin plays the straight man perfectly to keep the humorous lines flowing. They bounce off one another seamlessly and can easily cope when one goes momentarily off script or the audience throws up a surprise.

Art! Art! Art! Is a highly entertaining hour of sketch by two talented fellows. Their enthusiasm is infectious and their stagecraft is polished enough to make it look effortless. I look forward to seeing what thrice titled show they bring us next year.

Art! Art! Art! is on at Highlander Bar