REVIEW: David Strassman’s CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR

Or the voices in your head might start talking back…!

By Deborah Langley

David Strassman. He’s the dark-edged, avant-garde artist who lifted ventriloquism into the 21st century, acquiring a multitude of fans and critical acclaim along the way for his outstanding skill and his ability to push the medium to another level – and he is back in Melbourne after three years. Led by the evil Chuck Wood and delightfully cute Ted E Bare, Strassman’s developed characters and high-tech puppetronics creates a multi-layered stage performance that is easy to forget is a one-man show.

With the use of sophisticated multi-media and some tried-and-tested pantomime repertoire, Careful What You Wish For takes the audience inside Strassman’s head as he plays out his different alter egos through the use of various puppets and robots.

Using the premise that Strassman wants to retire, but his characters are not interested in spending the rest of eternity in some museum or stuck in a suitcase, we are introduced to some for the audience’s favourite characters. Of course the aforementioned Chuck and Teddy feature prominently, but we also get to meet the Vegas Stand-Up Sid the Beaver, the doddery Grandpa Fred, a female character Angel the wish-granting robot, and my favourite, the old-fashioned (albeit very drunk) Buttons The Clown.

Strassman manages to keep the material local and current with references to Geelong bogans, Julia Gillard, Mitt Romney and the Dandenongs, and he certainly has the audience eating out of his hand for the full two hours with toilet humour, low-brow and gay jokes running the show.

For me, the homophobic element got a little too much as did the Frankston bashing but I am sure I was the only one to notice as audience members engaged with every joke offered. Even a shameless demonstration of Strassman’s new Fortune-Telling App was a crowd-pleaser with audience members offering up questions for Ted E Bare and Chuck to answer. “Will I get laid tonight?” was answered favourably by the Chuck App, even though Stassman himself obviously thought differently…!

The show ends, elated, as Stassman and his puppetronics join together in a medley of some of the funnest songs making the audience clap along and making this reviewer feel like a big kid again. As we’re walking out, the next audience is busting to see what all the cheers were about as this master performer gets ready to do it all again.

David Strassman’s Careful What You Wish For is playing at the Athenaeum Theatre until December. Bookings can be made through Ticketek on 1300 795 012

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