The Crepe Hanger’s Ball by Martin and Ailsa Dunlop

By Colin Flaherty

It was the memorial service for Agatha Ignacia Dunlop. Her nephew and niece, Martin and Ailsa Dunlop, paid tribute to this cantankerous old woman with an hour of stand up (who cares whether that’s what she wanted, she’s dead anyway!). This was an interesting way to package an hour of stand up and theatre that worked reasonably well.

The opening eulogy did a brilliant job in setting the scene and painting a picture of the deceased. This very unlikeable woman was described using some wonderfully colourful language and we learnt of all her amusingly disgusting character traits. It was nice how they addressed the audience as family members and acquaintances which immersed us into their world.

Both did short sets of stand-up which was the main purpose of the show. Ailsa’s brand of stand-up was very dark, very graphic and immensely self-deprecating, while Martin went the lighter storytelling route with a few short tales from his life. Both were a little hit and miss in getting laughs but they certainly could hold our attention. Although prefaced with some witty lines about Agatha’s appreciation of their comedic work and both containing dark and graphic material, these sets weren’t particularly tailored to the overall story and just came across as their regular club sets presented verbatim.

This pair really shone when they were on stage together for some short theatrical pieces. One was an awesome Tennessee Williamsesque dialogue that allowed them to adopt silly accents and spout some wonderfully surreal lines. The other piece was a pair on concurrent monologues that had a beautiful twist in its conclusion. In both pieces Martin adopted a simpleton persona while Ailsa played the straight woman. Although they were often on the cusp of corpsing and they dropped character once to point out how clever they were (which disrupted the flow of the scene, resulting in dropped accents and losing their places) the duo pulled these off with ease and had the audience in hysterics.

Even though we were presented with some so-so stand-up in what was essentially a two hander stand-up package, it was the premise and the theatrical scenes that made this show for me. If you’re up for some gallows humour and want to see some great comic actors strut their stuff, don your mourning clothes and pay your respects to Aunt Agatha.

The Crepe Hangers Ball is on at the Portland Hotel at 9:15pm until October 4