Leaky Bucket – Swings at Dusk

By Erin Hill

If your nightmares are haunted by the sound of an office clock ticking then this sketch show, centred on the strange flights of fancy we take while bored at work, might be for you. Leaky Bucket is made up of Prue Blake, Darcy Fleming and Matthew McCartney, three talented performers with a background in improvised comedy, who perform absurd sketches about passing time at the office.

As an aside, their improviser’s skills were well utilised on the night I attended after an errant slip by McCartney smashed a mug; a vital prop for a number of sketches to follow, and the performers had to subsequently work around this. It is one of the joys of live performance that I can be certain that no other show was exactly like the one I saw.

The breakage occurred in a sketch featuring an elf-cum-accountant who worked from Santa’s basement for twenty six hundred years. McCartney played gleefully perhaps the saddest character ever written, giggling under the jingling of a bell-touting elf hat.

A sketch about office cowboys, taunting each other over the acquisition and thereafter use of a ‘favourite mug’ was performed with enviable commitment and rewarded with laughter. In fact commitment across the board was high, no matter how absurd a sketch became, or how high the stakes escalated (to the point of murder in a few cases) these dynamic performers would commit to whichever physicality or voice the scene demanded.

The show was punctuated by commentary from the “Voice” who would critique or demand sketches from the trio. Pavan Dutta, who ran the technical aspect of the show, provided the voice and helped the show progress with his interjections, although at times the device felt somewhat forced.

Not for the first time this festival I came to realise that not holding down a ‘regular’ office type job means I am missing out on a whole world of office related banter, drama and vocabulary. Swings at Dusk does rely heavily on its audience to recognise the situation to facilitate the comedy and not being able to identify with each premise could alienate some pundits.

The comradery between these performers is charming, and for office bound workers inclined to daydream or procrastinate, this sketch show will entertain.

Swings at Dusk is playing at 7pm at Tasma Terrace until April 8th.


Leaky Bucket – First Crack

By Colin Flaherty
Version 2

Leaky Bucket (Prue Blake, Darcy Fleming and Matthew McCartney) are a young sketch troupe performing their first MICF show together. This peppy trio of upstarts are eager to show off their sketch talents but as the performance progresses we soon see that all is not as it seems.

The sketches start off quite strong but soon come to a screeching halt as the cast work out their issues, usually with Matt being put back in his place. “You’re such a Matt!” is a phrase repeatedly shouted throughout this hour. This is an intriguing structure, breaking the fourth wall not only to deconstruct the performance but also introduce some comedic conflict. The meta elements regularly encroach on the actual sketch content, so much so that the “scenes” become secondary to the storyline involving our performers.

Your typical comedy trio character traits are set out right from the start, Prue the rather manevolent control freak, Darcy the pretty boy lap dog and Matt the dimwit relegated to background duties. They do all the usual comedic bickering bits (Matt is too dumb to be insulted by the cruel remarks, there’s a bit of sexual tension, we see a doomed power struggle and Matt quits the group) but this usually devolves into shouting, cruel taunts and not much else amusing or witty. Fans of the humour of cruelty will find plenty to like in this. Throughout the show each performer has a monologue recalling traumatic events from their youth, recounted with surreal details and overblown drama which fleshes out these characters beautifully.

The quality of the “sketches” are the usual mixed bag which have a few hilarious moments but often outstay their welcome. As you come to realise that they are not the actual focus of this show, you can happily forgive the sliding quality to an degree. However these peeks behind the curtain often suffer the same faults as the sketches.

The performers sell their stage personas with varying success: Blake plays her evil controller a little too subtly, Fleming brings a nice smarmy attitude to his character/s and McCartney has such an manic wide-eyed intensity that it is hard to take your eyes off him. They all work well together but they mostly play it all to the crowd rather than to each other. This seems counter intuitive but exaggerating performances both in and out of “sketches” maintains an apt artificial atmosphere and cements the fact that this is not a serious sketch show.

This wildly ambitious exploration of a sketch trio in crisis is rough around the edges but entertaining and certainly lives up to its title.

First Crack is on at The Last Jar until April 23