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