Clem Bastow – Escape From L.A.

By Elyce Phillips Escape from LA pic

After a run at Bar Open during the Melbourne Fringe, Clem Bastow has brought a new and improved version of Escape From L.A. to the Comedy Festival. For those who missed it the first time around, Bastow tells her story of fleeing to East Hollywood to pursue her dream of becoming a screenwriter. After two years spent scripting in coffee shops, Bastow returned to Australia with a newly-diagnosed mental illness and a wealth of comedy material.

This version of the show is more polished, but still chaotic. You walk in to see Bastow dressed as Dorothy, sitting in her own Oz of L.A., reading Robert McKee and surrounded by scatterings of Starbucks trash. An opening burst of sound effects and snippets of film dialogue from DJ Slig, Bastow’s brother, is as loud and disorienting as the most hectic action sequence of a Hollywood blockbuster. The new set and props add to the mess and distress of Escape From L.A. They’re a wonderfully trashy complement to tales from a trashy city. The antagonistic relationship between Bastow and Slig remains, the latter repeatedly interrupting Bastow with sound effects and unasked-for opinions. Bastow’s stories are well-crafted, relatable and had the audience laughing the whole way through.

The biggest improvement to this iteration of the show is the addition of some new sound pieces, produced by Slig. An extended mental crisis/fantasy acceptance speech sequence during a Kundalini yoga session perfectly straddled the line between discomfort and humour. The pieces pair really well with Bastow’s storytelling and work to simultaneously give the show structure and set it on edge.

Escape From L.A. is even better in its Comedy Festival form.  It’s a show about things not going to plan where things don’t always go to plan. If you’re up for a little mayhem, this is the show for you.

Clem Bastow – Escape From L.A. is on at the Imperial Hotel until April 19