The Last Temptation of Randy

By Lisa Clark

The couch looms large in this production, the heart of most homes it has also become iconic as being the manky centrepiece of most share houses and a symbol for Randy of his single state and stunted adult life. Beside it, in case we are in any doubt is a milk crate with a cushion on it. We walk into the theatre to find Randy sitting on the back of the couch humming while his housemate Jimmy (Stewart of the band The Miserable Little Bastards) described as the pirate-convict-musician, lies on the couch and strums his guitar. It is clear that this is not going to be a straight, one puppet standup show.

We’re used to Randy as the foul mouthed cunning purple puppet who speaks his mind and takes no prisoners. This shows us another side of Randy in a delicate sweet love story as told to his housemate. We know about Randy’s past struggle with alcoholism and this show is partly suggesting that love can be a similar kind of addiction. The story is fine tuned and the melancholy is outweighed by Randy’s insuppressibly left field humour and constantly peppered with wit, rib tickling similes and amusing asides.

So much impressive work has been put into this polished theatrical experience. There is a transformation at the centre of it all that is breathtakingly magnificent and has everyone talking on the way out, but I’ll not spoil it for you. As the poster suggests Randy cleverly employs the medieval device of Good Angel/Bad Angel to express his thoughts and conscience. Simon the housemate is there throughout providing moody music interludes with some beautiful songs and a little conversation. There are also some surprising side-splitting segues involving sharks and pigeons and a gentle interlude of gorgeous shadow puppetry.

Puppeteer Heath McIvor seems to be disappearing into Randy with no mention of Heath in any of the publicity or on Randy’s website and no bow from Heath at the end of The Last Temptation of Randy. You can’t help but wonder how much of Randy’s persona is Heath or completely made up. Randy certainly has a life of his own as a successful comedian, you can often forget that Randy is a puppet. I don’t know if this is the case with McIvor, but a puppet is a great mask for a shy person who wants to do comedy but doesn’t want the fame that goes with it. Heath deserves all the accolades that Randy and this show will bring him.

It’s always a joy to go to a show by performer who can be relied upon for a full hour of fun and non-stop entertainment and multi an award winning Randy has done it again. It is beautiful, funny and has a squirrel called Denis. What more do you want?

The Last Temptation of Randy is on at the Lithuanian Club until October 5

Sammy J and Randy in The Inheritance

By Daniel Sheppard

Carrying on the journey of their last two shows together (2010’s Rickett’s Lane and 2011’s Bin Night), The Inheritance takes our self-centered no-hopers to Britain in the wake of Randy’s uncle dying and leaving him with unexpected riches. A tale of secrets, debauchery, jealousy, mistaken identity and murder unfolds. There’s a series of twists in the saga, so I won’t go into great detail, but it’s a great little story that they’ve woven together.

The stage design and puppetry have taken a step up from the last few shows, especially the delightfully grotesque groundskeeper. While not quite at the level of production of Forest of Dreams, it’s unlikely that you’ll find a more impressive production in the festival. Heath McIvor’s skill as a puppeteer is really showcased here, and it’s a delight to see such an under-appreciated art given an outlet.

Sam and Heath seem really comfortable in their characters here, and their ease on stage allows them to really enjoy themselves. Even with such a tightly scripted show incorporating musical numbers and constant stage changes, they’re both relaxed enough on stage be able to break out of the show when the opportunity arises. This sense of fun is infectious, making it impossible not to get caught up in the enjoyment of the performers.

This show is probably a good re-entry point into Sammy J and Randy for those that were brought in by Forest of Dreams but were shocked away by the darker more misanthropic nature of the characters of recent years. The edge is all still there, but there’s an extra level of charm in this show that makes it much more accessible. Sammy J and Randy are on a great little journey together, and this show is a great opportunity to get on board and see where else they’re going to take us.

Sammy J & Randy perform The Inheritance at Forum Theatre downstairs.