Jon Walpole – One Man Performing A Two-Man Show

By Colin Flaherty

Slapstick bits about performing a double act solo have been seen before in short spots but Jon Walpole has taken the concept to its logical conclusion, an hour length show where one performer is in absentia. What results is a hilarious and clever performance with plenty of pathos thrown in.

He raises the stakes and shows all the obvious pitfalls and pratfalls of performing one man down early. His Aunty Donna styled opening song clubs us over the head that this is a double act. He shows the pregnant pauses for lines that are never returned, the absent physical contact and the risk of injury when the other person is not there to catch you.

The remainder of the show gradually reveals facts about Jon and Tim’s relationship as he nervously waits for the tardy appearance of his partner. To keep things on the road, urged on by words of encouragement from his tech James and an audience happy to play along with the conceit, Jon performs amusing sketches using props and assistance from members of the audience. Crowd work and audience participation play a huge part in this show but none of it is embarrassing or complicated.

With a background in clowning, Jon is a wonderfully physical performer and has constructed a world that shows this off. He manipulates his imaginative props, mimes his way through sketches and interacts with weird and wonderful characters that inhabit this strange theatrical world. The whole room becomes a playground and everyone is a part of the experience.

A shout-out must go to the tech James who holds this show together audibly. Hilarious reactive sound effects play a large part in the performance and Jon reacts to many sound cues and recorded dialogue that largely go off without a hitch. This is an audio visual tour de farce.

One Man Performing A Two-Man Show is on at The Motley Bauhaus until April 23

Dr. Duck – General Quacktitioner

By Colin Flaherty
Dr Duck
After a triumphant debut at last years’ festival, Dr Duck (Andrew Keen, Seon Williams, Ross Purdy, Olivia Solomons, Jon Walpole and Eidann Glover) are back with another hour of sketch madness. Sinister fishermen, an inept James Bond, bureaucratic Neanderthals and an educational piece of fruit are some of the crazy characters we meet in this amusing smorgasbord of scenes.

As with most sketch comedy the quality varies with each scenario but there are enough great ideas to keep you amused over the hour. Some are single joke premises that form a series of recurring jokes with a tepid punchline. One sketch is blatantly signposted as filler but despite being full of clever meta references it does exactly what it says on the tin. Other scenes go on a bit long and the punchlines aren’t quite as punchy as they could be. The upshot is that the journey usually contains plenty of hilarious lines, eye-rolling puns and wacky concepts to keep interest up and laughs rolling.

This is broad comedy and the cast sell the material hard; projecting to the back row and exaggerating all gestures and vocal inflections. It’s always great seeing performers exude their enthusiasm to the audience to make sure everyone has a great time. Purdy is less theatrical in his performance than the others but the oddball roles he is given are appropriate for his delivery style and have plenty of wacky dialogue to carry them.

The cast build their worlds using minimal props and lots of mime which works a treat. Transitions between scenes are pleasingly brisk and the choice of music accompanying the blackouts are cheekily related to the preceding sketch for an added giggle.

General Quacktitioner is a solid offering from this young sketch troop. I’m sure they’ll have enough interested in this fun hour to come back next year with another Anatidae/Medical pun title.

General Quacktitioner is on at The Tickle Pit until April 9